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Lockdown stress brings out creative side for mask maker

The stresses and pressures of lockdown have inspired a sanctuary seeker to find a creative outlet.

Desiree Lieuwo with some of the masks she has made

City of Sanctuary member Desiree said she began to look at ways to deal with being at home during lockdown, so reached out to one of the City of Sanctuary trustees for help.

She said: "I started to really worry about the lockdown and felt a great level of stress from it, so I spoke to Kate Penman over the phone about this.

"As we were talking, I told her that if I could get hold of some fabric, I would really like to make some face masks to help protect people as I like sewing.

"She spoke to other people at City of Sanctuary and they started to order the fabric over the internet, so it started from there."

Desiree, who left Cameroon in 2013 to seek asylum in the UK, had been attending the weekly drop-in sessions held by City of Sanctuary.

She said it was from attending these sessions and making friends at them that the idea came up of donating the masks she had made to other sanctuary members.

She said: "Kate and I spoke about what we could do and we realised that we could actually help the people going to the drop-in sessions.

"It was also good to have the masks to give out because the shops were closed and it was difficult for people to find masks.


"It's my own contribution to help people during the Covid crisis, with all the designs coming from things I've seen on YouTube and the internet."

The 57-year-old has, so far, produced 96 masks for people at City of Sanctuary, using a sewing machine which was donated to the drop-in centre.

Maggie Marriott, a trustee at City of Sanctuary Wolverhampton, said the work Desiree was doing helped show the hidden talents a lot of people coming to the UK had.

She said: "We've got artists and musicians and people who you'd never guess their talents by looking at them, but they come out of their shells to show them.

"Desiree is a real leader and has shown that she has a positive idea and wants to do something to help as many people as possible."

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