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Your Health

Busy Needles knitters support mental health services

busy needles web

Some of the varied creations by the Busy Needles group.

A knitting group has been helping improve social inclusion for clients of Roscommon mental health services for the past four years.

In 2015, Andrew McDonnell, Roscommon Training Centre Manager, Mental Health Services came up with the idea to form the group, which was to be open to the public too.

Simultaneously, a small group, including Carmel Cracknell, Brendan O’Connor and Anne Marie Lyster, were supported by the service to complete a one-year single module programme ‘Improving Service with Co-operative Learning’ in Dublin City University.

Carmel’s chosen college project was to suggest ways of using a community space to promote social inclusion with a view to improved mental health.

Also at that time, the board of The ‘Melting Pot’ internet café and shop had acquired additional space with plans to use it as a ‘Community Space’. It seemed that all the stars had aligned.

Mary Stack, one of the instructors at Clorina House Training Centre, joined forces with Carmel and, together with Mary Mulcahy from the training centre, who is a very skilled knitter, put a plan in place to launch of ‘Busy Needles’ knitting group in the public domain. This involved local newspaper and radio advertising together with posters and flyers around the town.

The first get together was on September 30th 2015. Seven ladies from the training centre and the day hospital joined with another eight ladies who were responding to the adverts. It was decided that there should be a focus for the group - as well as knitting for themselves, people were interested in knitting for good causes and so the fundraising began.

Today ‘Busy Needles’ has 24 members, some of whom are supported by the services, all of whom are supported by each other, through the many life experiences that have been encountered by group members along the way. There is a great feeling of comraderie, together with a kindness and respect that is afforded to each and every member of ‘Busy Needles’ Knitting Group.

Over the past four years the group has raised €6,300 through knit and bake sales and raffles. This has benefited the following charities: Derrane Transport Fund, Western Alzheimer’s, Niamh’s Journey There; The Melting Pot; The Roscommon Parkinson’s Association; Roscommon SPCA; Jacinta’s Smile; Cancer Care West.

Knitting donations have been made to Féileacán, Hope Christmas shoeboxes, Premature Babies, The Big Knit-age action, Hats for the Homeless and The Apostolic Work Society Easter Chickens.

The weekly chat and cup of tea are as important as the knitting and the Christmas dinner and summer outing are enjoyed by all.

New acquaintances and increased social interaction have certainly been some of the welcome outcomes from this initiative.