A Volunteer’s View


“Like many people, I first came across Knit for Peace when I was searching for somewhere to donate some surplus knitting. It was early last year and I followed the charity for a while on social media to see how active it was before arranging to meet Dame Hilary Blume, to see if there were volunteering opportunities. I currently offer around 5 days a month arranged flexibly as I spend a proportion of each month away from London.

Over the last year I’ve been involved in a number of aspects of the charity, but mainly I’ve been part of the team that opens, sorts and packs all the knitted donations that arrive at the office in Hampstead. Before I volunteered I had no idea of the volume of parcels that arrive in a seemingly continuous flow; all shapes and sizes, containing all manner of knitting. I pause occasionally and reflect on the hours of work that are represented by the hundreds of items that I have unpacked.”

“And the number of knitted donations keeps growing. The focus of efforts of the tiny team of staff is on finding the right places to send all the warm clothing and blankets, to make sure that they arrive promptly with the people who need them. If we slow down on sending things out, there is a risk that the building will burst at the seams.

When I was first involved I thought that the main benefit of the charity’s work was on getting the warm knitting to the people in need, but I can also now see the huge benefits to the knitters themselves. The charity’s report, The Health Benefits of Knitting, highlights the social and health benefits to older and infirm people of knitting and crocheting. I see some of this when I read the notes which accompany the donations. People want to feel they are making a contribution. That is, after all, part of my own motivation.

It is increasingly clear to me that the key activity of the charity is to be a distribution system for the knitters. This brings a set of challenges on how to make the activity sustainable by looking into who will pay for the ever increasing storing, sorting and delivery cost. I have now been asked to direct my efforts in part to fund-raising – a new challenge.”