A crafty new project is helping to tackle social isolation in Durham City and surrounding areas caused by the current lockdown by encouraging people to get out their knitting needles and crochet hooks.

Sandra Almeida and Veronica Freitas set up Cultural Healing Communities (CHC) with an aim to use cultural activities to engage local people in community activities.

With the help of £1,700 of taxpayer money, CHC has provided materials to one hundred self-isolating people and asked them to get stitching. Participants are creating woollen rainbow squares for inclusion in blankets, which will then be auctioned to raise even more money for the NHS.

Sandra said: “There are so many people who are having to isolate and who are feeling alone. Through this project they have been able to contact us, and we have been sending out yarn and instructions that will help them to get knitting. We are asking people to knit ‘rainbow’ squares that are going to be made into colourful blankets. At the end of the lockdown we will then auction off the blankets with the proceeds going to local NHS charities.

“Many people are lonely and without focus at the moment, so we are giving them a chance to be involved in something that is bringing people together and giving them something to do. Without the AAP funding we would not have been able to run the project, so we are very grateful for their support. Currently, we cannot include any additional knitters, although we know more people would like to get involved. However, we are looking for additional grants to help us do more.

“People are fabulous, so supportive, that is what I always saw in this county, an amazing community of strong people, always rising to the challenge.”

The council has allocated £100,000 to each of its 14 Area Action Partnerships (AAPs) to help community and voluntary groups across the county who have been adversely affected by the lockdown.

An additional £100,000 has been allocated for countywide projects which need assistance.

Craig Morgan, Durham AAP Coordinator, said: “The funding we have to help local projects during this current crisis can be used for a number of purposes. It can help organisations to pay bills or deliver food to people in need but this is something a bit different, which is great.

“We were happy to support Culture Healing Communities as we know many people will be struggling and this project will give them something to do whilst in isolation.”

Email the CHC at culturehealingcommunities@outlook.com.

Further information about the grants available from all 14 AAPs is available online at www.durham.gov.uk/aaps or by calling Durham AAP on 03000 264 991.


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