Nifty knitters go global with clothes and blankets

Northumbria midwife Julie Howe gives one of the Knitted with Love garments to a mum and baby at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre in Tanzania.

Northumbria midwife Julie Howe gives one of the Knitted with Love garments to a mum and baby at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre in Tanzania.

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Volunteer knitters across Northumberland and North Tyneside have been busy with their needles to help people around the world.

They have made hundreds of children’s clothes and blankets to support international health projects.

The group of volunteers was set up by Pauline Greaves, one of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s public governors, who, along with her friends, began knitting to support the trust’s international charitable link with Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) in Tanzania.

For many years, staff from the trust have volunteered in the Tanzanian hospital to help develop and improve healthcare services for the local population and during their trips, the volunteers have been handing out the knitted garments to patients and families at KCMC.

The blankets and clothes are so beautifully crafted that the trust’s Bright charity named the project Knitted with Love from Northumbria.

Brenda Longstaff, the trust’s head of charity and international partnerships, said: “Being in one of the poorest countries in the world, the Knitted with Love garments are always very gratefully received in Tanzania.

“It is fantastic to watch NHS volunteers give them out on the children’s ward, maternity ward and special care baby unit.

“Seeing the children beam with happiness when they receive a new brightly-coloured jumper or watching a new mum wrap her baby in a beautiful warm blanket, which have all been lovingly made by women in Northumberland and North Tyneside, is very special. We are incredibly grateful to the Knitted with Love group for making and donating these items to support our link with Tanzania.”

Brenda added: “When the project began, only half a dozen ladies were involved, now word has spread and knitters from across the region have pitched in to help. Many ladies who may be confined to their home due to age or infirmity now have a cause to knit for.

“They get a great sense of achievement from being able to use their skills to produce something which connects them with the wider world and gives such pleasure to people in need.”

Since last year, the Knitted with Love items have reached even more patients and families across the globe after the trust set up a regional network of international health links.

The North East and Cumbria International Health Links Network brings together groups and individual volunteers in NHS trusts across the region who are involved in charitable international health projects.

There are now more than 30 health links in the network, all undertaking invaluable voluntary projects to improve health in some of the world’s poorest countries and places greatly affected by environmental disaster, conflict or disease.

Knitted with Love items have gone to Bangladesh, Nepal, India, China, Malawi, Pakistan, Cambodia, Ghana, Ukraine and Syria.