'Mask tree' in Southsea offers free face coverings for people passing by

UNUSUAL trees have sprouted in the community to offer free face masks created by volunteers hoping to keep neighbours safe.

Wednesday, 17th June 2020, 2:16 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th June 2020, 8:58 pm

One of these community mask trees was set up in Winter Road, Southsea, by keen seamstress Fiona Loew - and 40 face coverings were dished out over just two days.

A nationwide initiative to set up trees in each community has seen more than 150 trees supported by 270 volunteer cutters and sewers, with more than 6,000 masks distributed within neighbourhoods around the UK.

Fiona, 52, said: ‘I stayed home during lockdown for my own health reasons, and was sewing masks for family and friends.

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Community mask trees have been popping up around the country to offer free face coverings to passers by. Pictured: A tree set up by Fiona Loew from Southsea

‘I just always like to try and be helpful where I can. This is something I can just put outside my house and help the wider community.’

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Last weekend seemed like a good time to put out her tree with 40 masks attached, as the new government rules which came into place on Monday mean people must now wear a mask on public transport or during hospital visits, and they were all gone within two days.

The masks are free but creators like Fiona ask for donations to cover material costs, which can be left when the mask is collected. It takes about an hour to make each mask and costs roughly £2 for the materials.

Fiona Loew from Southsea

Mum-of-six Fiona had help from her son who created the tree from some scraps of wood thanks to his newfound woodworking hobby.

Fiona’s tree is currently not outside as it is being refilled with masks for the community, and will be placed in the street when it is stocked up.

She is encouraging others to get involved with the project, either by helping provide fabric and elastic for her to use, or for other sewers in the area to donate masks to her offerings or even create their own tree.

Follow the Facebook page at facebook.com/pg/communitymasktrees to get involved or visit communitymasktrees.org to find out more about the Community Mask Trees initiative.

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