Bringing people together one stitch at a time

9th June 2020

Essex Knitters and Stitchers are ensuring that more people in the county can enjoy the feeling of a tight-knit community, while helping good causes.

The voluntary organisation for craft enthusiasts has launched new groups in Colchester and Clacton, thanks to £500 worth of funding from the independent charitable trust Essex Community Foundation (ECF).

The Essex Knitters and Stitchers now have 15 groups across the county, with more than 130 members who are looking forward to meeting again once current restrictions are eased.

Wendy Morrissey, organiser of Essex Knitters and Stitchers said: “We are very pleased to have had the grant to set up groups in Colchester and Clacton as we haven’t covered the North Essex area before. The new groups just got going before the lockdown and we will re-start as soon as we can.

“Our aim is to provide a welcoming place for anyone interested in knitting and stitching. While we haven’t been able to get together, we have kept in contact and some members have had virtual meetings.

“We make a wide variety of items to support charities, care homes, hospices, hospitals and homeless shelters in our area. During lockdown the knitters have been busy making headbands for the NHS and the sewers have been making scrubs.

“We also make other items including teddies for children who have experienced trauma, welcome bags for women’s refuges, wheelchair blankets, ‘fiddle cuffs’ for people with dementia and premature baby items.

“Our members enjoy being creative and productive and it gives a sense of fulfilment to know that what they are making will help other people.

“We already support charities in Colchester, such as the hospital, Women’s Refuge Centre and the homeless shelter.  The new groups will be able to continue to support these charities and, by having another group in Clacton, members can become involved in projects in this area.

“Our groups are also very important in combating isolation, people who join make new friendships and enjoy getting together socially.”

Essex Knitters and Stitchers was launched in 2015, following in the footsteps of similar projects in Norfolk.

Julie Fosh, the recently appointed High Sheriff of Essex and her 93‑year-old mother, Joy Rogers, are among the founder members in Essex, attending a group that normally meets in Maldon library.

Julie said: “The ECF grant is a really welcome boost. It will enable Essex Knitters and Stitchers to extend our reach into the county, benefiting more people at risk of social isolation.

“The lockdown has exacerbated the problem of isolation, so any organisations that support and encourage social interaction will be essential as we work our way out of this situation.”

Julie is still hopeful that her High Sheriff’s Garden Party can take place at Stow Maries Aerodrome in early September, where one of the attractions will be knitted aeroplanes made by the Knitters and Stitchers.

During her year of office Julie is raising money for the High Sheriffs’ Fund, which is run by ECF and supports charities dealing with crime prevention and community safety.