Volunteers are being recruited across the city to crochet coasters and macramé mats to include in gift packages to residents in Care Homes and isolated people within Birmingham’s communities in a new drive to connect people and reduce loneliness through craft activity.

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The “We Care Coasters” campaign includes working with primary schools and young people through Birmingham Scouts and Guides who will be designing and writing cards for the gift boxes, and starting ‘conversations’ with people who are different from them.

The Hive Café & Bakery was voted the country’s most ethical, responsible and sustainable venue in the country at last year’s VisitEngland awards. Whilst the exhibition and workshop spaces remain closed due to the new lockdown restrictions, staff are inviting volunteer crafters to connect with them and to support a new social action project which can be done safely from people’s homes.

Naomi Clarke, who is leading the craft campaign for The Hive, encourages people to get involved,

“We are looking for people who already crochet or macramé to get involved and use their creative skills and a few spare hours to contribute to this craft campaign, but we are also really keen to hear from people who are completely new to craft and would like to learn some new skills. We have prepared starter packs with tools, yarn, written instructions and video tutorials to create basic coasters.

We know that crafting has fantastic therapeutic qualities and hope this project will be a positive activity which helps people during this latest lockdown. The Hive is in a former industrial building in the Jewellery Quarter and volunteers will help us continue the long tradition of making from the building since 1879 – although this winter it will be from their own homes.”

The Birmingham More In Common group is part of a growing national network of volunteers who run Great Get Together events which bring people together to celebrate what they have in common, inspired by the work of the late Jo Cox MP.

Suzanne Carter from Birmingham More In Common said;

“The message behind the Jo Cox Foundation’s Great Winter Get Together Campaign this year is to reduce loneliness and reduce stigma by building connection. Winter is often difficult for so many people, this year the effects of lock down, shielding and social distancing will be felt by many more across Birmingham. We are so delighted to be working with team at The Hive who can make this social action initiative happen.

We will be safely delivering gift packs to Care Homes and to people who could do with a little boost. They will include the handmade drinks coaster, cards and personalised messages from their makers, and a few treats to have with a cuppa! We are involving children and young people as well as adult crafters to show how as active citizens their actions have the power to brighten someone’s day. Anyone can experience loneliness in their lifetime. It is often small acts of kindness that make a difference.”

Anyone interested in joining the volunteer craft team (aged 18+) or teachers interested in involving their schools should contact Naomi and Suzanne by email craft@thehive.rmlt.org.uk. The project is being run with strict covid-19 secure procedures, to keep all volunteers and gift recipients safe.

A virtual Winter Great Get Together is being hosted by the Birmingham More In Common group on Saturday 9 January at 11am on Zoom. It will be an optional friendly online coffee morning with an opportunity to bring your own cuppa, meet the team and other volunteers on the “We Care Coasters” project, and find out more before you sign up. A zoom link will be sent in advance. Express interest by emailing craft@thehive.rmlt.org.uk.