Norfolk Knitters and Stitchers draw on the expertise of over 2000 members to hand make items for charity. They have been recognised by Norwich City of Sanctuary for the way they support refugee charities in Norwich. The knitted or sewn items make a significant difference to the support the charities can provide.
Welcome Rucksacks Project:
When arriving in the UK, asylum seekers are dispersed to centres such as Norwich. They often feel disorientated, have few possessions and speak little or no English. They are provided with basic accommodation and receive £37.75 a week to cover food, clothing and toiletries.
Under the Welcome Rucksack Project, newly arrived asylum seekers to Norwich each receive a rucksack full of cleaning items and toiletries to help them through their first weeks in the city. Since the Norfolk Knitters and Stitchers became involved, these rucksacks are now also filled with handmade items. According to Carol Chilton, who runs the project, the support from the group has been invaluable: “They’ve made a huge difference by making the rucksacks far more personal. They are now filled with handmade pencil cases, sponge bags, bags and blankets which go inside each rucksack we give out.” They also provide knitted blankets and clothes for new-born babies, as well as small jumpers and knitted toys, sewing kits and first aid pouches.
Carol Chilton added: “The feedback has been very positive from those arriving in Norwich. You don’t know what their journey has been. Most come with very little so we want to make them feel welcome when they arrive.”
English+ is a local charity which supports migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in a number of ways. Norfolk Knitters and Stitchers have contributed a large amount of items to allow English+ and local church group, The STN Trust, to give Christmas parcels to people seeking asylum.
Sarah Wormald, from English+ said: “They provided small children’s bags, children’s jumpers, hand puppets to go in gift bags, a huge amount of amazing decorations which were given in the gift bags for adults and children, hats, gloves, scarves, slippers and shawls. It made a wonderful contribution to the parcels that were sent out.”
They have also sourced sewing machines, fabric and wool for asylum seeking families.
Schools of Sanctuary:
Norfolk Knitters and Stitchers have been working with local schools to create a large fabric wall-hanging featuring visual poetry around the theme of ‘Welcome’. The finished tapestry will be on display during Refugee Week 2019 at The UEA Students’ Union and at The Octagon Chapel on Colegate. Again the skills and expertise of the members of Norfolk Knitters and Stitchers has been extremely useful in helping the project succeed.