Kindness is how we listen and lead from our heart. Often, as we listen, it’s not what we say or hear. The biggest impact kindness makes is how we listen and understand the importance of what wasn’t said. This kindness comes as we listen from our heart; knowing the smallest gesture, like a ball of wool, often has the greatest impact.
Kindness is the Ladies who Knit. For the last four years, I have written blogs, which the Ladies who Knit, read. They listened as I wrote from my heart for help. I didn’t ask for money. I asked if they would knit baby clothes and blankets as we were in lockdown and the charity shops were closed. There was no reason to elaborate. The ladies knew what I meant, and they listened with their hearts.
As a result, the knitting needles and crocheting hooks came out with a little ball of wool to make clothes and blankets for babies to keep them snug. More importantly, it stopped Mums from becoming even more vulnerable because of a pandemic.
Kindness is knowing the difference good wool makes.
However, the cost-of-living crisis means the price of the wool the ladies use has shot up. The only option was cheap wool which doesn’t wash well; one wash and the garment is out of shape. For the ladies, using cheap wool is frustrating because creating beautiful, knitted baby clothes to help mums is often a sense of purpose. These ladies take pride in what they make; it reflects on the quality of their garments. They are master craftswomen who need suitable tools to do their job. They do not accept, nor give second best; they know from experience, cheap is not good.
One lady got in touch and said, ‘I know the cardigans help mums and their babies. It’s why I do it, but I’m going to stop because the wool is too expensive.’
As she spoke, my heart broke for her. I know how much knitting means to her, especially after the recent loss of her husband. Like most people, I rob Peter to pay Paul because I don’t have a huge amount of money. However, I knew I had to come out of my comfort zone and ask for help. But I wasn’t looking for cheap wool; I wanted the best wool to stop mums and the ladies who knit from becoming vulnerable. My job was to articulate this to someone who listened from their heart, too.
Kindness is Higher Fold Community Centre
I took knitted baby clothes and blankets, donated by the Ladies who Knit to Higher Fold Community Centre in Leigh. Also, I noticed the bags they were putting together on the floor. I asked what they were and Lee Whalley, the community centre manager, said, ‘they are warm packs.’
‘Are they for homeless people?’ I asked, Lee said, ‘no. These packs are for people on the estate who can’t afford to put the heating on.’ He continued, ‘we need more blankets. We have blankets in the warm packs for babies, thanks to the Ladies, but few for the adults. However, we need good quality thermal blankets to fit into the warm packs.’
I published ‘A Warm Pack to Help People in Winter’ blog, which I shared on social media. Social media is not the best form of advertising; many don’t read past the first two sentences. I wanted someone to listen from their heart and understand it wasn’t what I had said, it’s what would happen if we didn’t listen that mattered. I was looking for a miracle…
Armed Forces Veteran, Steve Jones, said Amazon, who he worked for, helped the Armed Forces Community. Verve Community CIC works amongst the Armed Forces community. Why not get in touch and ask for help? Steve found the contact I needed; it was Jeanette Denmade, from the Amazon MAN2 team in Warrington.
Jeanette listened after I made contact. I explained about the ‘Knitting for Babies campaigns’, and how important knitting was for the ‘Ladies who Knit.’ Also, the wool in the shops was cheap and mums only used them once as they never washed well. I explained the cost-of-living crisis meant good wool was too expensive; the ladies couldn’t afford it and it was heartbreaking. Finally, I told her of the warm packs at the Higher Fold Community Centre and why they needed good quality blankets.
I also donate knitted toys to our foster children from the charities we support. Once again, Jeanette listened with her heart. She donated brightly coloured wool to make knitted toys that gave unlimited hugs and cuddles, made with love, to children when they needed a cuddle most.
Kindness is Jeanette Denmade, and Amazon UK.
Jeanette understood; her own family were knitters. She told me about her memories as a child and the constant clicking of knitting needles. Jeanette also knew the difference good wool makes; it washes better and keeps babies warmer longer and stops Mums from becoming vulnerable, keeping money in their purses to buy food and put the heating on.
Empathy and compassion flowed from Jeanette, and I knew she understood. I was stressed for I have never asked anyone for anything before. She asked me to send paperwork she needed about who we are and what we do; and finally, after only a week, she arranged for us to collect beautiful baby wool and blankets to support our community from Amazon UK, MAN2.
The wool Amazon donated wasn’t cheap wool; it was luxury wool. It was the type of wool that Ladies would love creating beautiful baby garments with for babies and would make mums proud.
Jeanette also knew the Ladies had donated knitted toys for mums at our Sure Start and community centres for Christmas presents for children. I shared with her my blog, Knitted toys made with love, give cuddles to children at christmas.
To date, I had delivered over 1500 knitted toys and baby items direct to mums in need in our community. They have also created thousands of knitted hearts, teddies and bereavement blankets for the Swan Team at Salford Royal hospital. The toys made their way to Father Christmas, and he gave them to Mums of babies he held at the Christmas parties. Of course, on the big day, they were presents, from mummies and daddies, nanas and grandads; given with love from a stranger who understood, as they listened from their heart.
Thank you to the kindness of those who listened.
Over the Christmas period, I made my way to Sure Start and community centres to deliver the knitted items. However, like many, I had become disenchanted because of attitudes. It felt something conditioned us to accept vulnerability, because of labels given by those who thought they knew best. I had heard enough; the ‘experts’ didn’t know best. I wanted change.
I went to Buille Hill Christmas Fayre with Anne Pinkney from the Valley Community Centre in Swinton. The purpose of the day was to give out free, knitted baby clothes and toys to mums who might need a helping hand. It was a simple enough concept. However, some people didn’t understand why we were giving such beautiful items away. When I explained, some people asked if they could donate. So, for the first time, I said, that would be lovely as the Ladies need more wool.
I didn’t know at the time that the gentleman sitting next to me was listening intently. When I sat down, he asked if I had applied for funding? I told him; I don’t trust funding. In this sector it’s every man, or woman for themselves.
I explained that for me, charities rarely support each other because they are all chasing the same pot of money. As a result, it limited people’s support to what the organisation offers. If they need more, they have to look elsewhere. Basically, they are back to square one, leaving people more vulnerable than before.
I recruit foster carers for the Not for Profit sector. I also recruit Armed Forces Veterans for the Re-engage Programme with Major Chris Chudleigh and this enables me to pay my way. However, like most people, I had struggled last year. Terry Snowden MBE listened with his heart and told me about Forever Manchester. He said Forever Manchester is available to anyone exploring funding opportunities for grass-roots groups and local activities. Why not have a go myself at submitting a bid?
So, I did. And Forever Manchester accepted it. It was my first funding bid in four years since I started Verve. It is the reason the Verve Community CIC has renewed vigour.
Money doesn’t make the difference, it’s people with good hearts who do that.
It wasn’t the money that made the difference. It was Terry who understood my frustrations, and basically said, if you want change, make the change now and have a go. Sometimes, we need a stranger to watch, listen and understand and give you the gentle nudge that, like a ball of wool, makes a vast difference. Thank you to the Ladies who Knit, Jeanette, Terry Snowden MBE, and everyone I met along the way who listen with good hearts.
If you want to learn more about Verve Community CIC, please contact us on the form below. Random conversations often are the beginnings of stronger partnerships, and together, we can, and do, make a difference…