South Shields residents ‘knit and natter’ for premature baby unit

18th January 2019

Residents of a sheltered housing scheme in South Shields have joined forces with energy and regeneration specialist ENGIE to get knitting for the tiny patients of a local hospital.

The ‘knit and natter’ group, who live on Falstone Avenue, has been meeting regularly over the last few months to create bonding squares for newborn babies spending time in the Special Care Baby Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead.

While in hospital, one knitted square is placed with the mother and one with the baby. The squares are then swapped over every 12 hours to help each bond by smell. So far, the group has knitted over 200 of the bonding squares, as well as over 20 blankets for the infants.

The sessions were originally set up by ENGIE Resident Liaison Officer Jackie Carr while the company is carrying out improvement work to the sheltered scheme, on behalf of Clarion Housing Group, and have proven so popular, the residents have continued knitting the squares in their own time.

Jackie said: “We are thrilled that this initiative has been such a success. These squares make such a difference to the babies and their parents while they are spending time in hospital, and the residents of Falstone Avenue jumped at the chance to get involved. The group has enjoyed this project so much they’re keen to do the same for other hospitals in the area, so it looks like the knitting and nattering is set to continue!”

Members of the group accompanied Jackie to the Special Care Baby Unit to hand over their donations.

Lesley Heelbeck, Head of Midwifery at the QE, said: “Huge thank you to everyone who took part in this fantastic project – it has made such a difference to families staying in our special care baby unit here at the hospital.”