Community Mask Trees
1457. Naomi Betts
Naomi Betts, from Salisbury, created the ‘Community Mask Tree’ initiative, which has seen over 400 communal stands set up across the country to enable members of the public and vulnerable people to easily access reusable face coverings.
Naomi was inspired to set up the initiative after seeing a similar concept started in the Czech Republic, launching the first tree in her local area in Wiltshire, before quickly expanding further around the UK. All cloth face coverings have been made by a nationwide team of sewers, with 270 volunteers across the country helping to host and maintain the stands within their communities. Naomi has also encouraged donations towards charity in exchange for accessing masks, with over £300,000 currently raised.
In a personal letter to Naomi, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“I was amazed to hear of your army of volunteer sewers, producing and distributing thousands of reusable cloth masks that are helping to keep our communities safe.
“Your ‘Community Mask Tree’ initiative has made it easier for people across the country to pick up face coverings, giving them the confidence to go back out while protecting others and containing the spread of Coronavirus.
“So on behalf of the whole country, thank you, and I hope your mask trees continue to flourish for as long as they are needed!”
John Glen, MP for Salisbury, said:
“I am delighted to hear that Naomi is getting the recognition she deserves for the brilliant work she’s done to get face coverings to so many people across the country. Salisbury and South Wiltshire is proud of her.”
“I am truly honoured to be given this award and accept it on behalf of the army of sewing and non-sewing volunteers who helped to turn the single ‘Community Mask Tree’ on my driveway into a National Forest of ‘Community Mask Trees’. Collectively, the forest of more than 400 trees has achieved things I could never have done alone. We have delivered more than 180,000 handmade cloth masks into the heart of our communities all over the UK, making cloth face coverings available and accessible to all for free, and whilst we accepted voluntary donations towards material costs, we adopted a not-for-profit approach and have been able to give excess donations of more than £300,000 to a huge variety of charities in the last 3 months. My biggest reward has been the connections I have forged within my own immediate community and the wider Mask Tree community during a time that could have left me feeling so isolated and helpless.”
Pictured above: Naomi with her daughter Rhiannon beside the inaugural Community Mask Tree at her home in Amesbury, Wiltshire