What is the extent of the social impact of 1 ball of wool delivered with love by those who care? Someone once asked me how I measured the social impact of Verve? I didn’t. However, on reflection, I realised the largest social impact for Verve began three years ago when I wrote the ‘Knitting Baby Clothes Appeal.’ The impact of this article, reflecting, helped me understand. Measuring the social impact of a ball of wool with love from those who care was huge…
The blog was written as charity shops were shut because of the pandemic. As usual, greed came into play and many shops price hiked children’s and babies’ clothes. These rising prices created genuine fear as mums, already struggling, became very vulnerable.
There were many other mums who needed support to keep babies warm and snug by those who care; who, as yet, didn’t know they existed. When I wrote the blog, I was blessed. Over 100 Ladies who Knit and Knitting groups came forward and donated hand knitted baby clothes, blankets and knitted toys.
For many, knitting enabled women to cope with loneliness forced on them as they lived apart from loved ones. They felt they had been forgotten. They were out of sight and out of mind, like they didn’t exist anymore. However, knitting gave women a voice. They were here, and they cared. They knitted with love, and we heard them loud and clear.
We began to measure the social impact of rainbows…
The pandemic hit us with a ferocity we never expected. Alongside came a media intrusion that brought regular updates on death totals at teatime. The world had become a frightening place. However, our children painted rainbows and we put these pictures in our windows; they cheered us up. Not only did our children paint, they stood alongside us clapping every Thursday at 7.30 pm outside our homes for our beloved NHS, carers and blue light workers.
They were a little army of angels who guided us through the loneliness of being alone. Of course, according to the government, we had a purpose. We stood together and the social impact of what we did, on such a grand scale, showed solidarity; we were in it together.
According to the government, celebrities and even our royals who stood with us, we were a nation standing together, led by our little people.
It was who we are. We are a nation of people who love our children. And when we are afraid, our children step up to the plate, holding out little hands to guide us with rainbows. The social impact of this gesture was huge; our government knew it, and we fell for it.
The social impact of media hid vulnerability, we were invisible.
The truth was worse than imagined. Covid made mums not just afraid of catching the virus. It brought the fear of poverty and poverty meant not being able to look after their children, particularly the babies. As charity stores closed, the fear became a reality.
Also, vulnerable mums, already deemed as at risk of social services intervention, had no support networks. The army of children painting rainbows and clapping did not apply to them. For these mums, there was a genuine fear they could lose their babies if they were seen unable to look after them.
It was because of this fear that the knitting campaigns began. I made no secret of this and the social impact of this statement engaged with the Ladies who have now knitted over ten thousand baby clothes, blankets, hearts and teddies for mums and babies in the North West.
Every item is donated to Sure Start centres, community centres and mums in need to prevent vulnerability. Vulnerability was everywhere, but we couldn’t measure it. We were locked indoors; we were invisible.
Mum got it; we were out of sight, and out of mind…
My Mum knew the truth. We are out of sight and mind; she said. It’s like we don’t exist anymore. Her frustration was compounded by fear. Mum was recovering from a stroke and had angina. Before the pandemic, Mum went to her beloved Swinton precinct and shopped in shops she had shopped in all her life. Now they were shut and Mum was becoming depressed.
Mum wasn’t the only woman affected. Over a hundred other ladies read the post and offered to help, and the social impact of 1 little ball of wool emerged…
‘The social impact of 1 little ball of wool began to emerge…’
At first, Mum wasn’t keen on helping. It wasn’t because she was cold hearted; she couldn’t understand why so many mums were vulnerable? She was a parent raising children in the 1960s and 1970s and despite the hardships; they managed. Why couldn’t mums today cope? After all, they have mobile phones, large tellies and drive big cars they don’t know how to drive.
There were a million and one reasons Mum didn’t knit. However, over time, the messages coming from the media got blurred. She, like many others, saw behind the spin and saw the reality.
Mum said, there’s a small ball of wool in my knitting bag that could make a jacket or cardigan. The television was switched off, and she began knitting with the other women who knew that if they didn’t offer support, nobody else would. At long last, they had a purpose.
They wanted us to understand that they had seen beyond the hype. What better way to make a social impact with those ladies locked away than with a ball of wool and support from communities who care?
The social impact of bereavement blankets, hearts & teddies grew…
As the pandemic grew, so did the demand for knitted items. My daughter Maxine is a nurse at the Salford Royal Hospital and she told me about an appeal from the Swan team for knitted blankets, hearts, and teddies. Maxine told me they needed more; maybe the ladies who knitted baby clothes would help?
So, I asked, and they, of course, helped. To date, they have kindly knitted and donated thousands of knitted bereavement blankets, heart and teddies to bring comfort to those affected in the pandemic. The blankets are draped over the shoulders of covid patients as they pick the blanket, they feel, relates to them. If the patient passes away, the blanket either goes with them on their last journey, or they are given to their family as a reminder of those they lost. Knitted hearts are placed with patients who pass away, and the matching heart is given to a grieving relative to comfort them.
Finally, knitted teddies are given to children who need a cuddle whilst family members are poorly in hospital. It was this gesture which resonated to me the most. For these are children who have suffered great sadness. Thankfully, someone saw the need for a cuddle of a little friend that sat in their pockets; hence, the knitted teddies. What about the children in care in the pandemic waiting for foster care? Who was comforting them?
Knitted toys for children in care campaign…
Once more I asked, and again, the ladies donated thousands of knitted toys. These knitted toys were part of the welcome packs distributed to the children in foster care from several Not for Profit fostering charities and Local Authorities. The social impact of a little ball of wool, made with love from communities who care, had grown.
‘I can’t tell you how much pleasure I get from knitting the toys and knowing how much they help children. I’m retired now and get excited at starting a new ball of wool and seeing the finished toys…‘
As communities grew, so did my resolve to never stop. It was made clear to me that a small ball of wool could cause a significant social impact, uniting communities, businesses and charities that had been unaware of each other until then. The reason behind this was the cost-of-living crisis. We had been protected during the pandemic; we were grateful for anything. Shopping changed to searching for the required items and making them last; costs became secondary.
However, the cost-of-living crisis, blamed on COVID, Brexit and Ukraine, meant prices had gone through the roof. Also, Christmas was just around the corner. Once more, children were in danger of becoming invisible to Father Christmas. This time I wasted no time asking for help; I’d had enough.
If our children are good enough to guide us through a pandemic, clapping with us and painting rainbows, we must repay the gesture and make sure Father Christmas knew where to find them.
The social impact of toys made with love at Christmas…
Again, the ladies did us proud, and I took over a thousand knitted toys to Sure Start and local community centres. Every toy found a new home with local families. Whether they went to a mum, a nana, an auntie, it doesn’t matter; Father Christmas gave every toy to a child for Christmas.
The social impact of a one ball of wool, delivered with love, is created because we care. And when we care, we make a difference.
The knitted toys woven with care by women who once felt overlooked are immense. These ladies exhibit compassion for others. They too have had their struggles, yet, when it was needed most, there was always aid and support for them.
They also didn’t have savage systems like the Universal Credit. Nor did they need to use food banks, even though they worked. Life was simpler because people were nice. A heartfelt show of warmth, originating from a tiny ball of wool, had a far-reaching effect on society and led to a kinder future.
The social impact of COVID remains.
Even though Covid has gone, its effects linger. We weathered the Pandemic largely thanks to the love of our families and the kindness of strangers. When we encountered loneliness, we filled our days in doing things for others, as it made us feel we had a mission in our lives.
The consequences of COVID, for many stay as our beloved ones, such as my gorgeous mum, were not spared. Covid has left an irreparable imprint on my heart that will never be forgotten. However, the kindness of those who care with knitted hearts, teddies and blanket creates, for us, and thousands more, a social impact that is, for me, immeasurable.
Together, the social impact that began from 1 ball of wool, delivered with love from those who care grows stronger. If you want to learn more about Verve Community CIC, get in touch. There’s no such things as strangers, we are simply friends we haven’t met yet, and the kindness of others, and a ball of wool, leads the way ahead…