Updated: Monday, 19th August 2019 @ 10:17am

Premature baby clothing crusade: Trafford craft group knit together to ensure tiny tots stay warm

Premature baby clothing crusade: Trafford craft group knit together to ensure tiny tots stay warm

| By Kate Brady

Most mums-to-be spend much of their pregnancy counting down the days until they give birth, but for the parents of almost 60,000 UK babies, this day comes far too soon.

This is the number of babies which are born prematurely every year, with some potentially facing lifelong consequences.

Following their early arrival many parents continue to struggle to find such tiny clothes to keep their newborns warm in their first few weeks.

A Stretford craft group, which supports people experiencing emotional or psychological distress, has been crocheting tiny blankets and hats for premature babies across the Pennines at Bradford Royal Infirmary’s (BRI) neonatal unit, which admits and cares for over 500 babies each year.

The craft group, based in Stretford mall, is just one of several activities on offer from Stretford Hive.

The community project aims to provide communities and individuals with a place to learn, relax and socialise as well as information and advice.

Chief crocheters Julie Howarth, 50, and Jo Hogan, 61, are both volunteers for Trafford-based SCIlight Arts, a sub-organisation of blueSCI (Stretford Hive), which uses creativity as a tool to promote confidence and wellbeing among people who may be experiencing emotional or psychological distress.

DEDICATED: Julie and Jo run two groups every week

Both from Sale, Julie and Jo run two groups – a craft group every Wednesday 10am-12pm and a Sewing Bee meeting every other Saturday 11am-3pm.

The craft groups provide an alternative therapy to a diverse group of members.

Julie told MM: “Both groups include people who have suffered mental health issues such as depression, anxiety or low mood, are recovering from cancer or have a relative who has undergone cancer treatment.”

The group of around 20, who are predominantly females aged 20 to 75, participate in a number of craft activities including flower arranging and knitting.

However it was crocheting that hooked BRI neo-natal nurse Anne-Marie Crawley, who is also a volunteer in the music studio run by blueSCI.

Anne-Marie told the group that the BRI neonatal unit are always on the lookout for cosy blankets and hats for the tiny premature babies to keep them as warm as possible.

Since beginning their needlework shortly before Christmas 2013, the group has made about 20 multi-coloured blankets and 30 miniature hats.

The effects of their woolly warmers have not only been felt across the Pennines by Bradford’s premature babies, but also by participants in the group.

Speaking of the craft group, Julie said: “Even though they are perhaps struggling with things themselves, they really want to help others and making the blankets and hats is something which is helping their own sense of well-being.”

CROCHET CRAZY: The pair have helped make a wealth of blankets and miniature hats for premature babies

Craft group member Ann Greening, 73, from Davyhulme, Trafford, started attending the group when her husband passed away last year.

Ann, who was taught to crochet by her mother, said: “I’ve been a member of the group since it started and found out about it through the Macmillan Centre at Trafford Hospital.

“I was the carer for my husband, John, who died from cancer about 12 months ago and was looking for something to keep me occupied after he passed away," Ann told MM.

“Making the blankets and hats for the babies is very therapeutic and it’s such a worthwhile cause.”

Stretford Mall Manager, Colin McCrory also praised the Stretford Hive and the help the crocheters give for Bradford’s premature babies.

He said: “It is terrific to hear of the good work which is going on at Stretford Hive, including this lovely project to help premature babies stay warm.”

The craft group is now continuing their needle work to keep Bradford’s early arrivals warm, while promoting confidence and wellbeing in Stretfordians experiencing emotional or psychological distress.

The group also hopes to receive funding from the Community Development Foundation, which previously donated a grant, enabling the Sewing Bee club to buy four sewing machines.

For more details about blueSCI, email information@bluesci.org.uk, or call 0161 912 4828.

To contact Stretford Hive go to www.stretfordhive.co.uk or call 0161 8668154.