Staff at a hospital in Worcester which provides specialist care to adults experiencing mental health difficulties are launching a volunteer-led clothes bank called “The Wardrobe” to support patients in their care.
Provided by Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust, the Elgar Unit in Worcester delivers a variety of inpatient support across multiple wards for adults in the county who are experiencing significant mental health difficulties.
Many patients are admitted to the unit following stressful circumstances in which essential clothing items might not have been gathered for their stay. Some simply do not own basic clothing due to factors such as homelessness or financial issues.
As such, some patients will be inappropriately clothed when admitted to the ward which can have a significant impact on their wellbeing and independence.
The Wardrobe has been put together by donations of clothing from staff, as well as companies such as Re-Fashion, ASOS, Selective, Aldi, Bonaker Convalescent Charity, Talk Clothing and Preloved Kilo, with more organisations continuing to pledge their support.
It will offer emergency clothing to patients admitted to mental health wards in the area.
The Wardrobe will also be able to provide workwear for those attending interviews in the community, and sportswear to improve access to physical activity.
The vision for The Wardrobe is to address how clothing can be such a vital part of recovery from mental illness both in hospital and in the community.
Doctor Louisa Ward, project lead and clinician on Holt Ward said “This is an important project which I am very proud to be part of. We started the clothing bank as a way to provide patients with access to clean clothes, helping them feel comfortable upon admission and promoting independence. This project has now grown to consider how clothing plays an important part in mental wellbeing in other areas of life, not just during admission to hospital. I am excited to see this expand to other mental health services across the country”
Volunteer Sarah said “I’m really happy to be part of running the clothes bank. Some people don’t have access to clean clothes for many reasons and this can really affect the way they feel during a hospital stay. As someone with personal experience of accessing mental health services in Worcestershire, this is a really important step to help people feel comfortable and also keep a sense of self when they may be at their most vulnerable.”
The Wardrobe clothes bank at Elgar Unit is unable to take clothing donations from the public at this time due to the current pandemic.
Photo: Dr Louisa Ward, project lead for The Wardrobe