A new ‘buy-one gift-one’ campaign launches to support the refugee community and fight the COVID-19 battle

This week the social enterprise We Make Good went online with a ‘buy-one gift-one’ linen masks. For every mask purchased a mask is donated to a person living in Direct Provision. The masks are made by women from a refugee background who work for the social enterprise The Textile Studio, an initiative that provides jobs, training and leadership opportunities.

 Joan Ellison the manager of The Textile Studio, states,

‘Since we launched in late 2019 we have been producing manufactured textile products for the service industry, our sister store We Make Good on Fade St, and own brand products for a number of small Irish companies. However those contracts all dried up, so it was a natural pivot for us to begin making high quality face masks that are really well constructed, and made of natural fabrics that mean the masks can be worn comfortably’.

Virginie Gnrofoun, a Textile Studio maker says,

“This is an important project, as people in Direct Provision cannot easily self-isolate. We are sharing living spaces. Anything that helps families keep safe and feel like they have more control is highly valued. I am very proud to be providing these masks for people in Direct Provision. I am also grateful to everyone supporting us. It shows we are all in this together”.

The project is run in partnership with the Irish Refugee Council, who are delivering the masks to Direct Provision Centres around the country. Nick Henderson, the CEO of Irish Refugee Council says,

“We are delighted to partner on this fantastic project which simultaneously supports a fantastic social enterprise and assists people living in Direct Provision. Since the crisis began we have focussed intensely on trying to support people in Direct Provision. This has included campaigning for the vulnerable, healthcare workers and people in overcrowded space to be moved to accommodation where they can socially distance and isolate or cocoon. While a face mask does not eliminate risk it is a useful protection.”

Caroline, the CEO of quality Matters, the charity behind the social enterprises We Make Good and The Textile Studio says,

“in the first 24 hours of the campaign launching we had generated sufficient sales to gift 150 masks to Direct Provision. This is amazing, I think the campaign really taps into where people are right now, we want to protect ourselves and our family, but in Ireland people are really taking any opportunity to reach out and support those in vulnerable positions”.

Professor Anthony Staines, the Chairperson of “Quality Matters, and an epidemiologist working in DCU adds,

“Masks are a useful protection for others, and make many people feel safer, but remember  to follow the instructions for use, such as not touching masks while you're wearing them, and washing the mask between uses".

Increasingly scientific experts are showing that masks can be a key part of a communities response to Covid-19, and many countries are exploring making masks compulsory when people are in public. To purchase a mask for yourself and gift one to Direct Provision go to www.wemakegood.ie, or the Facebook campaign page where you can also donate to Irish Refugee Council.