Knitting Communities Together :: Project Brief

Knitting Communities Together is a joint project between Little Bird SOS, a local 'not for profit'along with LCC Hastings Road day care centre coordinated by Leanne Robinson, Service Development Coordinator.  The project has been supported by the Leicester City Council (LCC) Community Fund for the Charnwood Ward. 
The aim is to enable staff to develop guerrilla knitting style knitting projects that will enhance their immediate work environment along with service users.  Those who are able will discover how to knit, crochet and weave which will result in the production of swatches that can be stitched together to form lap blankets, bunting, decorations etc.  These new skills will enable staff and service users to engage with the local community by providing opportunities to make items that will be of benefit to them.  We have already started to forge links with the Guru Teg Bahadur Gurdwara (Sikh Community Centre) who would like lap blankets for their day care centre elders, and St Barnabas Road Temple who would like a 'Bollywood' Banner for their dance group.  

The project, will run for  12 weeks at the Little Bird SOS studio at Cross Corners Community Arts Centre, learning a variety of wool craft skills such as crochet, knitting and weaving and will be working with selected services users testing out/transferring your new knowledge and skills to them.  

Throughout the project we will be collecting evaluation information in the form of written and verbal 'soundbites' and questionnaires, that will help us to find out how this project is benefitting staff and service users.  We will also be documenting the process through photography/video and encouraging staff to write about their experiences through this blog, thereby reaching out to the community beyond the day-care centre.  There will be a celebratory event at the end of the project where we will gift items, mentioned above, to the Guru Teg Bahadur Gurdwara and St Barnabas Road Temple.  
Lisa Pidgeon, Arts for Health Practitioner and Director of Little Bird SOS will be facilitiating the practical learning and project management side of this project.  Jacqui Booth, Photographer, Writer and Non-Exec Director for Little Bird SOS  will be taking pictures/video, and will also be responsible for helping us evaluate this project.
The expected outcomes of this project are as follows:
·     Staff will learn the skills to be able to create basic items such as bags, room decorations such as bunting and flags, any other items which can be crocheted, knitted or weaved. 
·        Very basic techniques such as finger knitting will be used which all service users regardless of ability could take part in will be taught to staff in a series of workshops,
which can then be relayed to service users in regular sessions, quiet times, 1:1 or in larger groups.
·         The creations will be distributed around the local community for example: knitted blankets in local care homes/residential day care centres or knitted buntings that convey a message
·         Additionally, groups and individuals will experience the pride and ownership of making something useful and functional which can be taken home or used to decorate the place they attend each day.
·         Improved manual dexterity
·         Increased and maintained attention and focus.
·         Self-expression and choice making – colours, fabric texture etc.
·         Hand eye coordination.  Exploring and transforming materials with bare hands
·         Sensory integration.
·         Sense of delight through production and accomplishment.
·         Developing connections between local communities i.e. community centres and care homes, thereby raising awareness of learning disability within the local community enabling the reduction of barriers perceived to be associated with this.
·         Communicating with other community groups beyond the service users own direct community.
·         Communication and participation.  A positive and meaningful group purpose. 
       Reminiscence - crafting to trigger memories of childhood, families and happy times. The focus will be on sharing positive experiences.
·         Meaning making – having an item which you have made, using colours or items which mean something to you e.g. trains , photos, favourite music etc., and which remind you or a specific time.
·         Absorption – giving people with severe learning disabilities  who lack opportunities  to focus, to achieve and control their immediate environment.
·         Improvement  of the immediate environment – textures, colours and multi-sensory facets.
·         Spending time in different environments within the  local community: if appropriate permissions are sought.