Close knit friends providing extra comfort to spinal injury patients at Shropshire hospital

Spinal injury patients at Shropshire's orthopaedic hospital will be able to wrap up warm this winter thanks to a number of knitted blankets made by a volunteer-led group.

Heather Thomas-Bache, LOF Head of Voluntary Services, Rebecca Warren, MCSI Ward Manager and Victoria Sugden, LOF Charity Director
Heather Thomas-Bache, LOF Head of Voluntary Services, Rebecca Warren, MCSI Ward Manager and Victoria Sugden, LOF Charity Director

The League of Friends of The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital set up Close Knit Friends at the beginning of the pandemic as a means of supporting patients on the Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries (MCSI) and as a way to stay connected to volunteers and fundraising branches who aren’t currently able to undertake their usual duties.

Membership now stands at 50 – with groups such as the Women’s Institute getting involved.

Each knitter receives three balls of wool and a set of instructions in the post, with completed squares being sent to the finishing teams based in Chirk; mother and daughter, Ann and Amanda Carter at Quilt Dragon Kits and Gwen Roberts from Gwen’s Sewing Room.

Each blanket is lovingly created with 25 individual squares made in the League of Friends colourways – pink and blue.

The finishing team then take each set of 25 handcrafted squares, join them together, add a pouch and finish off with blanket edging.

The group have created the first prototype batch of blankets which will be tried and tested by patients to gauge whether any changes need to be made to the design.

Patient Phyllis Yates

Lady Trevor, vice-chairman for the League of Friends, was the driving force behind the project and worked closely with the ward to determine what patients required to make going outdoors more comfortable for them.

She said: “We have received so much support for this project and we’d like to say a huge thank you to all of our knitters and our fantastic finishing team, Amanda, Ann and Gwen.

"They have all worked so incredibly hard to create these blankets.

“This has also been a wonderful way to stay bonded with our volunteers and fundraising groups throughout the pandemic.

"Many of those taking part in the project have had to shield and remain at home – we’re very happy to provide them with a welcome distraction.”

Rebecca Warren, MCSI ward manager, said: “These blankets will really help to enhance patient experience – as the colder weather draws in it’s just what patients need to wrap up warm when they’re outside.

"They will also make lovely keepsake items.

Patient Des Turner

“I’m very grateful to all of the League of Friends volunteers for supporting our patients – the added extras go such a long way.”

Due to infection control the blankets are single use items and will be taken home with patients when they are discharged.

There may also be a requirement for knitted hats and fingerless gloves as the colder weather sets in.

For these reasons the group are on the lookout for additional members to support with the demand.

Anyone interested in getting involved can email rjah.leagueoffriends@nhs.net or call 01691 404401.

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