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Doncaster’s dining smocks generate international interest

Posted: 23/06/2021

A South Yorkshire not-for-profit organisation has gained a multi-million strong international audience after announcing its tie-up with a local college to make special smocks for adults and vulnerable people to wear when they are eating.

Doncaster College fashion students are making the smocks and passing them on to Flourish Enterprises, a subsidiary of Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust, for use by the Woodfield 24 care team based at Doncaster’s Tickhill Road Hospital.

The smocks – which are ordinary shirts with the backs cut out – are being made using different patterns and fastenings so they can be as accessible as possible. Designed to protect the wearer’s clothing while eating, they give the appearance of being a normal top.

The practical design quickly went viral after Flourish launched an appeal for unwanted shirts on social media.

Flourish Managing Director Laurie Smith said: “As soon as we asked for donations of button-down men’s and ladies’ shirts, size medium and above, we were inundated with enquiries from around the globe. These include a New Zealand family who are looking after their grandad and want to do something with his favourite shirt that is too big for him, journalists in the USA, and an Australian care company that has 100 homes and wants to give the smocks to thousands of residents. Within 24 hours our social media post had been shared a staggering 357,000 times and reached over seven million people.

“We can’t thank Doncaster College and the fashion students enough. The smocks provide an opportunity for our Woodfield 24 carers to give some dignity to people who would otherwise use an ordinary bib when eating. They are discreet, look like an ordinary shirt and can be easily washed and used again.”

Doncaster College Work Placement Co-ordinator Dionne Cartlidge, who with fashion tutor Lauren Hughes hit on the idea of making the smocks for the local community, said: “We saw the design online and discussed how we could give it to our students as a project to work on towards their work placement requirements. It’s a fantastic opportunity for everyone involved. Our students are able to utilise the practical skills that they have gained from their course to create these smocks in different styles to be as accessible as possible.”

If you have unwanted any shirts to donate, they will be gratefully received at the Flourish Café in the Walled Garden at St Catherine’s House, Tickhill Road, Balby, or direct to FAO Dionne Cartlidge, E.4.114, Doncaster College – The Hub, Chappell Drive, Doncaster, DN1 2RF.