A KIND-HEARTED woman who has made hundreds of face masks says she is doing the work for free so she can help as many people as possible.

Pla Steele started making the cotton face coverings in April and has now sewed together more than 500. She’s also made draw-string scrubs bags for staff at The Cumberland Infirmary’s Intensive Care Unit who are treating patients with Covid 19.

The 35-year-old, of Deepdale Drive, Morton Park, Carlisle, has often worked 12-hour days, sometimes into the night, to keep up with demand and even had to buy a new sewing machine after her old one broke.

She’s also had to enlist the help of her husband Martin who cuts out the material as she sews between 10 and 30 a day.

“I’m making them for everyone in Carlisle who need it and all over the UK for free. I only take donations to get more material to help more people,” she said.

The Government is now advising people in England to wear face-coverings where social distancing is not always possible, for example on public transport or in some shops. It says in some circumstances this can help reduce the risk of transmission of the virus.

Pla, a mum-of-one, who has been furloughed from her job at Edinburgh Woollen Mill, learnt to sew after moving to Carlisle from Thailand in 2006.

She told people about what she was doing in a handful of Facebook groups and received numerous orders from across the country.

Pla has also lost count of the number of scrub bags she's made after her sister-in-law, who works in ITU helped spread the word.

“It’s just a hobby, something I like to do in my spare time,” she said. "I was a bit shocked when I was counting my list and how much people have donated.”

The machine-washable face masks are made of four layers of cotton fabric. Some have a sewn in filter and others have a pocket for a filter which can be replaced. They are not suitable for hospital workers, who are required to wear surgical masks, but are for members of the public.

If anyone would like a face mask Pla can be contacted on Facebook.