Award leaves Oban Knitting Bees buzzing

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A project knitting older and younger unpaid carers together during the pandemic has won an award.

Throughout lockdown and through the power of Zoom, carers from across the generations have been meeting up online to knit and keep each other in the loop.

When Covid struck and put a stop to face-to-face meet ups, clubs and activities at North Argyll Carers Centre, something had to be done and a new way found to continue support.

One of the ideas to help people feel less alone, was to set up an online knitting group called the Knitting Bee and now that work in keeping people connected has played a part in winning North Argyll Carers Centre recognition for its digital innovation from Generations Working Together, a nationally recognised centre of excellence supporting the development and integration of intergenerational work across Scotland.

Mairi Fleck who is the training co-ordinator at North Argyll Carers Centre knew with extended families separated through lockdown there would be real value to bringing young and older carers together.

‘Young carers were finding it very difficult being away from friends and school, and both young and older carers were physically cut off from their usual social groups and wider family connections,’ said Mairi, who worked on the knitting project with the Centre’s Young Carer Service Coordinator Agnes Ingram.

The knitting group has been using time to support Teddies for Tragedies sending out their cuddly creations to refugee camps, orphanages and hospitals in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and South America.

And they have also been knitting jumpers, booties and hats for ‘fish and chip’ babies in South Africa via another project based in Devon that sends out bundles of knitted clothing for newborns who would otherwise be sent home from hospital wrapped in newspaper.

The Knitting Bee project has created good friendships too – through the project 16-year-old Marri Ingles from Dunbeg, who helps look after two brothers who have autism, has got to know 62-year-old Penny Turtle from Ganvan who cares for her husband with Parkinson’s.

The pair look forward to the weekly sessions where they can knit and natter, share experiences, stories and feelings, and enjoy each other’s company – and that of others in the group, which also includes primary age children.

Mairi said: ‘Both groups have recognised that no matter their age they share similar hopes and fears and can enjoy each others company. Wisdom is not the preserve of old age and a need for fun and laughter is universal. Intergenerational friendships create a stronger sense of community and the hope is that this mutual understanding will translate to the wider community through this work.’

The award is taking pride of place in the window of North Argyll Carers Centre on Albany Street and Mairi can be seen talking about the project on the Generations Working Together Website at: