Ballycullen woman made 300 face masks

By Aideen O'Flaherty

A BALLYCULLEN woman has made over 300 fabric face masks since lockdown began, 25 of which were donated to the Saoirse Women’s Refuge last week, and she has inspired other women in the area to make their own masks – after posting instructional videos and photos.

Gosia Nocen, 43, who works as a nursing-home nurse, started making the fabric masks shortly after lockdown began, and gave them to her family and friends, and then continued making them for other people who needed them.

Gosia Mask 2 compressor

Gosia Nocen made masks for people who are cocooning or to charities

“I was observing what was going on here and abroad,” Ms Nocen told The Echo. “I saw that everywhere had a shortage of masks, and even in work I knew my employer was having some issues getting masks.

“We have surgical masks in work, but I was thinking that, when we’re outside, we’ll need a mask too, so I tried to see if I could make one.”

Ms Nocen also made the fabric masks with the hope that it would alleviate some of the demand for medical grade surgical masks, by providing the fabric masks to people who don’t work in the medical profession, for things like shopping or going for walks.

“I got good at making the masks, and I found making them relaxing,” added Ms Nocen. “I was checking groups on Facebook, and some people were asking for masks, so I sent 45 masks to a place in Wexford for people with disabilities.”

The majority of the masks that Ms Nocen made were given for free, to people who are cocooning or charities, and when she had difficulty sourcing elastic as demand for the stretchy fabric started to soar, her neighbours helped out by collecting elastic for her.

Five other women from the Ballycullen area also started making masks, after Ms Nocen provided instructions on how to do so, and Fianna Fáil councillor Deirdre O’Donovan has helped to distribute the masks to worthy causes, after she was contacted by Ms Nocen.

“All of this started because Gosia wanted to make sure the community was protected and minded,” said Cllr O’Donovan, “and she also gave information to people so they could learn how to make masks themselves.

The masks that were donated to Saoirse Womens Refuge LIZ compressor

25 masks were donated to the Saoirse Women’s Refuge

“We are incredibly lucky that there are people in our community who want to help others, particularly at a time like this.

“It has been a fantastic community effort.”

For Ms Nocen, who is originally from Poland, making the masks gave her the opportunity to help her community.

“I’ve lived in Ireland for 14 years now, and I felt I wanted to give something back, to help out,” she said.

“I think if I was looking for another job, I’d like to do something that’s voluntary, because I really like helping people.”

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