One of the Ageing Better groups that we visited recently is called Barmy Knitters, a gathering of 7 or so ladies who sit together, chat, drink tea and knit or crochet some lovely colourful items destined for donation to charities. The ladies meet at Sycamore house, a supported living centre in Erdington where some of the participants also live, which is great as it means that they don’t have to travel far, just a short walk to the shared lounge on the ground floor of the complex.
Barmy Knitters is run by Sharon, who was helped to set up the group by Eileen, leader of another band of knitters at Needles and Pins which runs at the Elim Church in Kingstanding. (pictured below with her own creation “the Green Man – spirit of Gardeners”). The range and diversity of knitted garments is really quite amazing and includes small hats and glove puppets for premature babies and cosy hand warmers - made especially for people with Dementia. They come complete with hidden “surprises” - all sorts of shapes, textures hidden inside the warmers - designed to help Dementia sufferers keep their minds active and engaged.
Eileen explained how all the knitted items are for distribution to the community to help others, to raise money for local people in need or sent overseas by the Elim church. "We also knit lovely warm clothes for new born babies in Africa – as often when they are born, they have no clothing and so are just wrapped up in old newspaper…”
Ageing Better in Birmingham give support to the group by helping to provide materials, knitting pins and the like, meaning that the ladies have plenty of resources at their disposal. Knitting has been great therapy for some members, like Margaret, who has been coming to the group for the past year, she said
“I found out about the group as part of a health and wellbeing programme at my local doctor’s surgery, and this group was recommended to me, it’s not far to walk and it gets me out and about, socialising and building friendships”
Anyone is welcome to come along and join in, and it’s no problem if they can’t knit, as Elaine and the others are always happy to help them and teach them how to make their own unique creations in wool.
Even if you have a disability – like Ann, who has been blind from birth, or Sharon, who suffers with mental health challenges – all are welcome, regardless of their circumstances ….And it’s not just sitting and knitting for these ladies – there are lots of group outings, trips and even cream teas! A lovely, caring, happy group, doing their best for each other and for the whole community, both here and overseas.
So, despite their name, perhaps not quite so Barmy after all!