Midlands Polish Community volunteers sew an incredible 5,000 masks for frontline workers in Longford and beyond

Longford Leader reporter

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In response to the Covid-19 pandemic and to show solidarity, support and community spirit, volunteers from the Midlands Polish Community have produced and distributed nearly 5,000 cloth face masks to many organisations.

The initiative began before Easter thanks to Magda Podsiadly from Athlone and soon after another three Polish volunteers from Longford, Kasia Pasik, Magdalena Ruszaj and Kasia Sochacka, joined in. They are sewing masks every day which are then given to members of the ‘Community Support Team’ (part of Midlands Polish Community) to be distributed.

As Covid-19 took hold, the Midlands Polish Community set up a dedicated Polish-English webpage and Facebook group where the most important and relevant information from the Government and local authorities is published in both languages.

The ‘Community Support Team’ was also created and this comprises members of the association spread throughout different midlands locations, namely Athlone, Ballymahon, Mullingar and Longford.

Barbara Stachowska coordinates the distribution of face masks in Longford, Wojtek Wrobel in Athlone, Dana Kiernan in Mullingar and Joanna Kazek in Ballymahon.

Slavek Kazek, Chairman Midlands Polish Community, explained, “When the demand for masks peaked, we were looking for additional volunteers for sewing and we got fantastic help from the Longford Volunteer Centre in spreading the word around.
“After that, local Irish lady volunteers joined in and greatly supported the initiative, making it a truly multicultural initiative. Recently, the production of scrubs has started and the first few batches of scrubs were donated to public health nurses and the medical centre in Longford.”

The cloth masks have been donated to public health nurses in Longford and Athlone, Midlands Simon Community, Meals on Wheels, St Christopher’s Longford, LCRL, The Alzheimer’s Society, Family Carers Ireland, Ballymahon Day Care Centre, post offices and nursing homes.

Mr Kazek added, “We received huge support from Longford and Westmeath County Councils as well as from the Polish Embassy in Dublin, which was part of the global #Polonia4Neighbours action initiated by the Polish government. Thanks to this financial support we were able to purchase all materials needed for face masks and scrubs production.

“We would like to sincerely thank local authorities and the Embassy for this fantastic support.”

He also thanked all volunteers that are sewing masks and scrubs and all members of our ‘Community Support Team’, who coordinate the project.

“We are delighted we can help the whole community during this pandemic,” concluded Mr Kazek.

For more information see the Midlands Polish Community website: www.polishcommunity.ie or check out their Facebook page: Midlands Polish Community