Covid Community Quilt

In February 2021 we received grant funding from The National Lottery Community Fund to lead a quilt project which aimed to bring people together to work collaboratively in a creative way.

The effects of the pandemic were felt most severely by many during the third lockdown, it was an especially lonely time, made even harder by the short winter days. 64 participants took part in the quilt project, each person received a kit of textile goodies and joined in with online group workshops over a period of a month to learn new embroidery, appliqué and embellishment techniques and create a square fabric block for the quilt.

The squares visually depict each person’s journey through the pandemic and show in a positive way how we all managed to get through such though times.

We are so proud of the completed quilt, we were very keen for it be colourful and portray a message of positivity and above all else it’s document such an important moment in history.

The quilt will be exhibited as part of the ‘North County Quilts’ exhibition at The Bowes Museum between July 2021 and January 2022.

Creative care packages to keep our minds and bodies active

In April 2020 when the pandemic hit and our county went into lockdown we were no longer able to run our usual monthly groups.

For many of our members the monthly meetings provide an opportunity to socialise with others and offer that all important sense of belonging as well as a boost of self -esteem, confidence and achievement.

We felt that it was really important that we reached out our members and other people in our community who were most hard hit , suffering from the effects of isolation and feeling low, depressed and anxious.

We were fortunate to received funding from many different organisations such as Darlington Borough Council, Tesco, Tees Valley Rural Actions, Bishop Auckland and Shildon Area Action Partnership and The Neighbourly Fund.

With this money we were able to create around 700 activity packs which were designed to stimulate mind and body and included activities such as planting, baking, crafting, drawing and painting and embroidery.

We opened up nominations online each month and with the help of an army of volunteers we delivered the packs right to the doorsteps of our recipients.

The thank you cards came flooding in with fabulous feedback about our work. Many of the recipients were overjoyed to have been remembered and told us how much joy that act of kindness brought them during such dark times.

Online Friendship Programme

In December 2020 Comic relief provided funding for us to deliver Friendship Programme with a blended learning approach.

This project was open to people of any age who were finding it difficult to cope with lockdown and suffering from mental or physical health concerns due to the pandemic.

We had 50 participants who took part in the project and they each received kits for 4 activities which could be created during facilitated online sessions.

The aim of this project was for people to connect with each other face to face using the Zoom online portal and be able to enjoy the experience of making something together in a virtual way.

The online meetings were hosted by a wellness coach and beneficiaries also accessed telephone support throughout and connected with each other via social media.

It was lovely to see friendships blossom and people offering help, advice as well as sharing their own journeys and looking after one and other.

850 Winter Activity Care Packages for elderly residents of County Durham

Durham County Council and their Area Action partnerships provided us with one of our largest grants to date in December 2020.

This project was a huge undertaking and took a huge amount of co-ordination to get it off the ground.

In January, just as The prime Minister had announced the country was heading back into full lockdown we began our biggest challenge yet- 850 activity care packages which were to be delivered to elderly people suffering hardship and living in all 14 of the AAP areas across the whole of County Durham.

The project was so big that we took over Croft-on-Tees Village Hall and used this as our base for the month of January.

We couldn’t have achieved this project without the support of our volunteers who packed, stacked and delivered the boxes of goodies far and wide.

Nominations were once again opened up online and we were overwhelmed with the response, we also linked up with local food banks, charities community centres and village halls to help allocate the packages and ensure they got to the people who needed them most.

With the elements against us, snow and ice hitting the region for most of the weeks we ploughed on through and achieved our target at the end of the month.

The packs included plants, craft activities, baking kits and equipment, books, puzzles jigsaws as well as some food produce and toiletries for those who were finding it difficult to get out and about.

We’re super proud of this project and it was a privilege to be able to help so many elderly people.

Intergenerational Pen-pal scheme

The Hadrian Trust kindly gave us a grant fund to be able to continue an intergenerational Pen- pal project which we established in the Autumn of 2020.

The pen pal scheme was launched with funding from County Durham Community Foundation with the aim of bringing together both young and old. Children from Croft C of E Primary School and a group of local senior women from the Darlington started to write back and for the to each other during the Autumn and winter months.

When the initial funding completed, we were lucky enough to receive a pot of money from Hadrian Trust to keep the project going.

The children have written letters, made Christmas and Easter cards, painted pictures and set tasks for the ladies.

The communication has been a life-line for our seniors with lots of them telling us how much they enjoyed reading about the children and remembering happier times from their own lives.

For the children it’s been a wonderful opportunity to write with a real purpose in mind and a great lesson of good citizenship. It’s a beautiful project which we hope to build on in the future.

Supporting our Silver Ladies

We are very grateful to County Durham Community Foundation for believing in us and our vision since the very beginning. CDCF provided us with our first ever grant back in 2017 to run a ‘Silver Members Club’ specifically aimed at elderly women who needed social interaction.

The group has engaged around 50 ladies each month since then but unfortunately came to a holt when lockdown hit.

We were upset to discover just how many of these ladies lived alone without any family close by and were very concerned about the prospect of being alone without anyone to support them.

We were able to use our funds to adapt to the situation and instead of running the meeting in person we delivered activity kits every month to the silver ladies. Volunteers would talk them through the instructions and stay for a socially distanced chat in the garden.

It has meant the world to them to see a familiar face once a month and have a focus and something new to do. We are hoping to get back to in person meeting soon and can’t wait to see all our members once again!

V E Day Inspired Care Packages

In May 2020 we were all planning on celebrating V E day in style but that was not to be! The pandemic hit and almost everything and everyone stopped and stayed at home.

Pimm’s and Needles were keen to get out there and help in any way that we could so we applied to The National Lottery for community funding to make VE day boxes for elderly people living in the North -East region.

Working under the strict government guidelines of the first lockdown we enlisted the help of volunteers to sew union jack bunting for each recipient to hang up at home, organise embroidery kits, collect donations of books and toiletries and pack all the goodies into boxes.

We were supported by local businesses who donated food items such as biscuits, tea bags and fruit. 

The boxes were delivered from our hub in Croft on Tees right the way up to Sunderland, down to Northallerton, out to the dales and across to the coast.

In such uncertain times it was a brilliant achievement to be able to find a way to pull the community together and help those shielding and most isolated.