Cork-based Russian seamstress making hygiene masks for direct provision residents in city

Cork-based Russian seamstress making hygiene masks for direct provision residents in city
Olga Voytenko, and her daughter Sofya Abashko with some of the masks made to protect residents of 'Direct Provision' centres.Pic; Larry Cummins

A RUSSIAN seamstress and asylum seeker in Cork has begun making hygiene masks for people in direct provision and other vulnerable residents in the city.

Olga Voytenko is part of the Sanctuary Mask Initiative, spearheaded by BetterTogether and the Cork Migrant Centre, with the support of the UCC University of Sanctuary, UCC Feminist and Fáilte Refugees Societies.

The Sanctuary Mask Initiative (SMI) is recruiting women living in Direct Provision Centres to produce the hygiene masks, which are made using pure cotton and linen, which are breathable, non-irritant and don’t shrink.

Each of the women involved in the project has been supplied with a sewing machine, fabric and necessary supplies needed for the manufacturing of washable hygiene masks.

The production of the masks is coordinated by Olga Voytenko, a seamstress and resident of Kinsale Road Accommodation Centre, who has set up her own sewing and alteration business in the heart of Cork City and she is being helped by her daughter Sofya Abashko.

Each of the women involved in the project are themselves skilled seamstresses and are given a wage for their labour (in accordance with their rights to work status).

Charlotte Cargin from Charlotte and Jane, a Kinsale based design label, is the fashion design consultant on this project.

HSE and WHO guidelines, as well as the recommendations of a public health expert, were consulted and deployed in the production of information guides on the use of hygiene masks.

The official guidelines emphasise that the hygiene masks do not replace existing guidelines on safety procedures for COVID-19.

For more information, email sanctuarymaskinitiative@gmail.com and to donate to the cause, search ‘Hygiene masks made by women in Direct Provision’ on Gofundme.com.

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