Another extraordinary year, another severely impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic, and that’s just us ALL trying to do our best to keep safe and well, and function, let alone relating to wool! And yet, the most wonderful response from you our wonderful crew! We are truly uplifted by you all. The dedication and compassion you showed despite the pandemic is truly unstoppable and a true force for good. It gives us strength, we hope you feel this too. Just astonishing.
The response and enthusiasm to all our projects has been as bright and bold as ever. The spirit, generosity, love and care, truly feels boundless. We never take any of this for granted. We’ve been able to help so many, going through so much on top of covid worries. Crafters and donors what you do is incredibly special and precious, giving compassion, woolly warmth and comfort to others, especially in this dreadful year. We are filled with awe!
So as the old year draws to an end, we love to pause and to reflect upon the Woolly year just gone and although we say this every time, it really has been an extraordinary year, full of extraordinary days! What a woolly journey we are all on together. Please take a moment to think about what it is you do. Sometimes we get bogged down in pesky ends, posting deadlines, crafting details, we forgot to see what it is we are all achieving here for our recipients, together. And it is really precious and special. Thank you!
Our Little Hug project continues apace, as we make warm comforting blankets for very sick children in hospital. These go out throughout the year and we are very grateful to staff in the hospitals who get them to families. It’s an extra job and we really appreciate it. 2021 saw us initially sending to Glasgow, Newcastle and to the teen ICU at GOSH. Then right at the end of the year, we were so pleased to make an inaugural delivery to the wonderful teens and young people being treated at the Teen Cancer Unit at the Royal Marsden. The Teenage Cancer Trust Unit (TCTU) at The Royal Marsden’s hospital in Sutton is a purpose-built unit for teenagers and young adults aged 16 to 24 years. So pleased we have been able to add them into our Little Hug project, we hope you are too. Thank you to lovely Lucy Jarvis for getting us linked up. Then just as we stopped for Christmas we were contacted by wonderful staff at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, asking if we could support their patients between the ages of 16 to 24 with a cancer diagnosis. Obviously we’ve said yes! So we shall need more single bed sized blankets for the spring, if anyone is up to this?!
More exciting news as we can now announce an additional destination for our Little Hugs. From 2022 onwards we shall be supporting the Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice in Maidenhead with our Little Hugs.They provide specialist care and support to children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions, and their families, across Berkshire and into surrounding counties.Thank you to lovely Clare Smith for her help here, we are so delighted.
Our Angel Hug project for bereaved families continues strongly, helping families going through incredibly bleak times, with so many supported again this year. We are truly thankful.
Our Christmas Cwtch project is now in its third year and we know by the response how loved this is. Our super festive Little Hugs go to very sick children stuck on Ward 2 at the Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle over Christmas. Sent with love in every stitch for the whole family. As always these are absolutely stunning. Thank you so much everyone, we know these have been loved by families going through incredibly difficult times.Thank you too to lovely Marie Samuels on Ward 2 for all her efforts! All hail the NHS!
Our Refugee project during the pandemic has been incredibly challenging as we have struggled to get items to folk in need. Currently it is impossible for us to reach folk in Refugee camps as we historically have done, and we long for the time when this is possible again. At present we are focussing just on blankets and blanket squares and are reaching folk in this country.
Like so many of you we were utterly horrified by the unfolding news from Afghanistan in the summer. The terrifying triumph of the Taliban and its impact were, and still are, devastating. Scenes at Kabul airport were truly desperate as folk attempted to escape. We were asked what Woolly Hugs could do to help refugees fleeing the country. Thank you so much everyone, and we made a plan. We knew we couldn’t solve this but decided if we could help some folks then we would do our best. Through our friend Alexsis at Seeded we learnt that nine Afghan families were being urgently resettled in the Portsmouth area. These families have fled the country to escape hideous repercussions from the Taliban. We decided we’d like to make each family a beautiful blanket, full of love and compassion, to let them know they are welcome, folk are thinking of them and wish them well.
This was where it started, through the love and compassion of our crafters we were able to make MANY more beautiful blankets as more families arrived, both in the Portsmouth and Bedford area. Our palette was chosen by Alexsis using colours popular in Islamic geometric art, seen in stunning tiles and prints. The resulting blankets were truly works of art. Despite the short time frame, folk really gave their all, which was incredibly heart warming and humbling. The header image is from this project, we have included a few more but would have loved to include them all! We plan to talk to the resettlement agencies to see where they are in 2022, so watch this space!
Our Snug project goes from strength to strength as we send woolly love to Looked After Children across the UK. This year to East Midlands, SE London and Middlesborough! It is a wonderful project, making these children something permanent, that they can take with them wherever they are. Snugs will run again in 2022, same crafting info as this year, destinations confirmed as soon as poss. This is such a wonderful project, so grateful that we reach as many children as we do. And that is all down to our wonderful, generous crafters. If anyone is keen to get started?!
Five Years of Candy’s Hugs – feels like yesterday
It is always at this time of year we remember beautiful Candy (known as Zombie to some) and remember the conversation we had just before Christmas 2016, hatching a plan to use her wonderful donation to kickstart a new project. Our aim then was to make comforting cosy blankets with love in every stitch for women going through treatment for breast and other cancers, at times forming part of palliative care. We called them Candy’s Hugs. It has turned out to be an incredible legacy, a vibrant rioting legacy. Hundreds have gone to women and girls of all ages, all bringing cheer and giving love and woolly warmth. Over five years, this project has gone from strength to strength. Initially we had to take names onto a waiting list, now thanks to all you incredible people we have them in hand, which is exactly where we longed to be, so we can reply instantly to calls for help.
Kinship Hugs too, have been a wonderful blessing. They are an extension of, and in addition to, our existing Little Hug project. We make bigger blankets for folk in need of comfort. So many have gone this year, truly always made and sent with so much love. Sometimes we head into our amazing group known as the Square Squad to make personalised Kinship Blankets, with specific requests for personalised squares. No request ever seems to faze folk! These just a few of the Kinship blankets from 2021. If you feel like you’d like to investigate the Square Squad, do find them on Facebook!
We had a Panda Picnic in 2021! This was to support some of the tiniest babies in the UK with the PaNDR team in the East of England region. Back in March we were asked to make pairs of bonding squares! Bonding Squares are knitted in matching pairs. One square is placed with a premature baby and another is worn against the mum’s skin, then the squares are swapped round every 12 hours or every time mum visits. They help the bonding of a premature baby in an incubator with the baby’s mum. The response was fabulous and we decided to go one further and hold a fundraiser to support this newly established team. We were stunned by the creativity of our crafters as the specification was pandas! Here is just some of the absolute treasure and we were delighted to be able to send a fantastic sum of £1150 from our sale!
We all love helping Father Frost. I know my own family love thinking about their allocated child (Roman, lad aged 10 this year) then shopping, weighing, losing half the stuff we bought as it is too heavy etc! We had 75 children to send to this year, places were quite literally snapped up! Folk are incredibly generous and we all love seeing the children receive their stockings. We know there are more photos to come, but the first few have arrived. Usually the stockings go for Orthodox Christmas but they have already been delivered to ensure that covid doesn’t stop the plans. Check out this wonderful clip! THANK YOU SO MUCH EVERYONE!
Our traditional Chernobyl project had remained on hold, as children were unable to make any trips out of Belarus or Ukraine because of the ongoing pandemic and we still had 175 blankets in storage from 2020. We can’t tell you how delighted we were when Elizabeth agreed to deliver them at the same time as the stockings! We had to quickly get them ready, all needed washing to freshen, then vac pack, then get them to the CCLL Head Office. We also had to pay to transport them over and are enormously grateful to folk who send donations of funds at very short notice!
Joyfully we get to repeat this in 2022 as the children will not be visiting again as it stands this year, but how wonderful that we get to go to them! So this year we sent 175 over, if we can achieve the same again it would be amazing. We will be pushing hard on this project! Squares and whole blankets, all VERY VERY gratefully received! All crafting info is here…. THANK YOU!!
Two more wonderful craft sales took place this year, we LOVE seeing how creative and talented folk are. We know about the wool, but then we find even more talents are abundant. Our Spring Sale raises funds for our own projects, then at Christmas we love to send a third of all profits to a chosen charity. This year it was wonderful to be able to send £1765 to the amazing charity, the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group. We have included just a few photos of craft from both, in total across the two sales we had 943 items! ASTONISHING!
Another project for Team Knit arrived later this year as we were contacted to help a wonderful group make hat and scarf sets to be given to care leavers at their organised Christmas Dinners this year. Care Leavers’ Christmas Dinners were originally set up by the poet Lemn Sissay to help communities provide a Christmas Day for young care leavers (from foster and care homes) aged 18-25, who often spend the day alone. It aims to be a magical day to be cherished and remembered by those who attend. Please see the link which gives more detail regarding The Dinner: http://thechristmasdinners.org.uk/ Despite the short notice, we were delighted with the response! So happy this project will run again in 2022, all crafting and posting timeframe info is here…
Our hearty hearts came in to their own during lockdowns as we could send to our wonderful key workers and folk who are struggling. This is a quiet ongoing project as they are lovely to have in hand. More about this project in the link, thank you so much to everyone for their crafting and nominations.
More beautiful big Woolly Hugs have been made through Mumsnet in 2021, supporting bereaved families. We say these blankets really are a tribute to a life filled with love, and we know how much the families love them. This year we have delivered to…
All hail the incredible Construction Crew AGAIN! What an astonishing bunch of folk. Truly extraordinary. At times our requests (Cwtches, Candy’s, Kinship, Snugs, Refugee blankets, Chernobs) are relentless and often with short notice. For this and several other projects, we could not function without you. The sheer joyful enthusiasm our calls for help is met with makes us so teary and thankful. What wonders you are. And the SPEED OF RESPONSE! Its like having our own team of Woolly Avengers. Thank you!
If anyone would like more info about either the Construction Crew, or Square Squad, just shout, we have separate Facebook groups for these two which are open to all, but having them separate hopefully stops requests getting lost on our main page.
Really all that is left to say is THANK YOU!
Thank you again for every moment of thought given to our projects, every piece of ours you have read, the likes, shares, every SINGLE stitch, ball of yarn, search for pattern or idea, every single penny spent, every choice from our Amazon wishlist, every penny donated or raised, every single moment, every BLOOMIN pesky end, every ounce of support, every resource, every Post office queue, everything! Thank you too to all on our wonderful Woolly Pack Facebook page for being marvellous. Come and find us if you’re not already there, it is our friendly and welcoming virtual pub! An extension to our regular Woolly Hugs page. All welcome to join, it’s a Facebook group with a positive chatty environment, sometimes wool chat, often not, offering support whilst avoiding doom & gloom. Contribute as much as you like. No selling, no spam, no abuse, only support and kindness permitted. Cheers! The link is here hopefully…
2022 is on its way, here’s to a wool packed year of helping as many folk as we can, supporting and encouraging, raising each other up, we couldn’t be more inspired and humbled by the woolly crew. It’s the togetherness. Awesome. All love for the new year, keep well, stay safe, we need you all!