Lady holding two knitted teddies

The social impact of 1 ball of wool delivered with love.

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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 know what they meant. 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 the campaigns helped me understand the crucial power when communities and not for profit’s worked collectively.

I first wrote the Knitting Baby Clothes Appeal because charity shops were shut due to the pandemic. As usual, greed came into play as large supermarkets price hiked children’s and babies’ clothes. These hikes created genuine fear for mums, already struggling. Now, they were becoming very vulnerable.

Also, many women were scared of asking for help for fear of being judged. The pandemic brought an end to this, as now, we were all in the same boat. When I wrote the blog, I was blessed. The Ladies who Knit and Knitting groups came forward with beautiful hand knitted and crocheted baby clothes, blankets and knitted toys. They engaged with the blog, because the pandemic made them feel abandoned; they wanted to help. The problem they said was how do you know who to help? They were in lockdown too and felt out of sight and out of mind. They said, it feels like we don’t exist anymore; however, knitting is our voice. It is who we are and how we can make a difference. And they did, as they began to knit with love. Their voices were heard, loud and clear by mums, who also needed a hand, too.

Baby in green knitted cardigan smiling. The text reads Knitting Baby Clothes Appeal

Measuring the social impact of rainbows…

COVID-19 hit with a ferocity we never expected. There was grim updates on death totals at teatime and the world was a scary place. The only solace we had was our homes. We couldn’t trust no-one; they could be the carrier of COVID. But there was one group who were undeterred as our children sensed all was not well and they painted pictures of rainbows which we proudly displayed in our windows and we clapped together. Not only did our children paint, they stood with us proudly leading the way, clapping every Thursday at 7.30 pm for our beloved NHS, carers and blue light workers.

They were a little army of angels who guided us and alleviated loneliness because they cared. Of course, according to our government, we had a purpose as we stood together and the social impact of what we did, on such a grand scale, showed solidarity. We were in it together and they measured the social impact of rainbows, too. According to the government, we were a nation standing together, led by children who overcame the fear of COVID19 which they fed on an hourly basis with rainbows. If only life was that simple, or maybe they thought we were.

The government played to our children because we are a nation who love our children. When we were scared, our children stepped up. They held out little hands and guided us with rainbows; the social impact of this was huge. The government knew this; they played us and they knew it.

The social impact of COVID-19 made children invisible.

The truth was, the fear of COVID meant vulnerable children had become invisible. Where once they would have support from schools and teachers, they had no-one; many lived with neglect and abuse; they were not safe. COVID-19 also brought a new fear of poverty for many mums already struggling. As charity shops closed, the fear of poverty rose and mums already receiving social intervention had no support networks available. They feared they could lose their babies because they couldn’t afford to keep them warm.

I wrote the knitting campaigns because of this fear and I made no secret of this. The social impact of this fear resonated with the Ladies who Knit. They responded by knitting and donating thousands of baby clothes, blankets, toys and teddies to mums and babies in the North West.

I take their donations to Sure Start and community centres; mums can access them without fear of being judged. They didn’t need to fear a label called ‘vulnerability’ which we all wore. We too were invisible, but the ladies who knit knew this. They used their time wisely with kindness; their social impact grew.

child alone wearing a facemask staring through a window.
During the pandemic, many became invisible including our children.

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 as 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…

My Mum, rest in peace x

‘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…


Knitted toys made by Angela, with love.

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.

Image of a ball of wool and knitting needles. The text reads, the social impact of a ball of wool is huge when we add love...

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.

Knitted doll holding a note asking for a friend at Christmas.

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 started with just one ball of wool, gifted with love from those who care, continues to grow stronger. Verve Community CIC is relocating to the Spinners Mill cafe in Leigh, Greater Manchester. The Spinners Tearoom will have a 1920s theme, paying homage to the mill’s early beginnings and the women who worked there. These women were once faced with challenges and demonstrated resilience in much the same way women today face. Now, we gather over a cup of tea, homemade cake, and good company, and get things done.


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