Christmas Kindness for Care Homes
This was RBKares first project. We wanted to show the care homes how much the community appreciated their hard work and care and we also realised this was going to be a very different Christmas for them. We gave out 3,436 presents to staff and to residents who had no one else to give to them and ‘Jolly Trollies’ for homes that wanted them! We liaised with local schools who got the children to make cards, over 6,000 were distributed. The lockdown rules meant this had to be done very quickly to ensure it was all delivered before the imminent rule changes.
We set up a crowd-funder for this but the majority came from shout-outs to the wonderful local community. We collaborated with Tony’s fruit stall in Kingston Market Square and he raised £1,000 through a raffle.
In December 2021 we had a wonderful second run of our Christmas Kindness for Care Homes. It was great that the community rallied round to show our gratitude to all the carers for the phenomenal work. We delivered presents to 1,296 staff across 39 care homes and 161 residents who didn’t have anyone else to buy for them. Each home also got a ‘hamper’ filled with magnums of Prosecco and tins of treats and a fidget mat.
The volunteers were amazing some sewing, some knitting, some buying or donating, some collecting, some wrapping and some delivering. Over 2,000 school children were involved in drawing and writing 5,000 cards which bought great joy to all the residents. We are so grateful to the Kingston Charitable Foundation that gave us a grant to help us achieve this.
We met with Laure Smyth from Yorda Adventures to see how we could support them. We have just delivered 30 Kindness Kits to give to the parents of children who use their family sessions. It is tough bringing up a disabled child and there are so many hurdles that the parents have to jump over to get the support they need. Giving them a bag with nice toiletries, chocolates, candles, puzzles and activities will hopefully raise morale and give these parents a little boost.
Fidget mats and seats
We ran a wonderful Fidget Mat workshop with a grant from the loneliness and isolation fund in Kingston. We made knee covers and seats covers with all different sorts of things to fiddle with, which help reduce anxiety and the child is calmer because they can fiddle with something. We are getting great feedback from teachers and children.
Supporting Kingston Hospital
In January 2021 we saw the enormous strain the hospital was under and set up a wish-list for ‘grab and go’ snacks, treats, energy drinks, coffee and we donated 44 coffee machines to various wards and departments.
We supported the staff that were struggling or off sick by giving out 600 ‘mindful’ gift bags. These contained an activity such as painting-by-numbers, chocolates, toiletries, candle and a thank you card. We opened the fundraiser again and £20,000 for the Kingston Hospital wellbeing fund.
Because of COVID, A&E staff were seeing patients outside and it was very cold. They asked for sleeveless fleeces to keep them warm, so we made and embroidered teddy-bear fleeces for the paediatric staff and embroidered other ones we bought for the rest of the staff. We also made padded eye masks for the patients on ITU and in resuscitation rooms to allow them some relief from all the machinery lights.
We set up a local cooking rota for front line staff through local road WhatsApp groups.
We donated hundreds of tubes of hand cream, acne cream, face cream and lip salve to help the effects of wearing masks/PPE so intensively.
We were approached by people wanting to offer well-being services such as reading groups, meditation and Pilates and liaised with the wellbeing unit at the hospital.
We made scrubs and tabards for vaccination centres and spread the word when centres had some left so as not to waste precious vaccines.
The paediatric unit contacted us for help when they noticed the large increase in children who were struggling and self-harming. We got 2,000 fidget balls and fidget poppers from BT. We asked the community to donate wipeable toys, arts and crafts and make ‘chemo-duck’ outfits which have been incredibly popular with the children who take them with them while they go for chemo therapy. At Easter time, both in 2021 and 2022 we collected hundreds of chocolate eggs for a giant ‘chick and bunny’ to distribute to everyone in the hospital. The volunteers knitted wonderful bunnies, chicks and hats for the eggs. We are also knitting matinee jackets and blankets for the neonatal unit.
We continue to make scrubs but more for identifiable purposes, eg embroidered with ‘chaplain’ or the diabetic logo. These have had a very positive impact on their work interactions. The Sewing Angels, who have been incredible throughout, continue to help with all our sewing projects.
We made and embroidered 486 scrub bags for the volunteers that were returning to the hospital in August which kept the embroidery team very busy.
We made and filled ‘PJ (pyjama) Paralysis’ bags to give to the staff members who got the most number of patients up, dressed and moving.
Art for our local Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services
Through delivering bags and coffee machines to Tolworth Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) we saw another outlet for the creative children in the borough. We asked schools to get children to do art for the walls, to inject a little healing and hope into the environment. This was a hugely successful and positive project and we also got some Charlie Mackesy prints for them (The boy, the Horse, the Fox and the Mole).
Donations for the Afghan Refugees arriving in the UK in Summer 2021
We then galvanised the community into donating clothing, baby items etc for the Afghan refugees and started working with the Emergency Response British Red Cross and the Afghan Central Asia Association at Feltham. Having secured local storage, we helped sort through, wash, categorise, distribute and store contents of 400 bags. We have distributed to Growbaby and RAK (Refugee Action Kingston). We have worked with the Rotary Club, Save the World Club, the Angels of the Hood and Community Champions to galvanise this community response. We have been able to do a lot of redistribution by forming these strong bonds in our community.
Last autumn the Sewing Angels were very busy making fidget mats for the residents with dementia in the various care homes. We donated 38 of these at Christmas.
In January 2022 we set up a Fidget Mat workshop which was a great success.
With the help of a grant from Kingston Council, RBKares ran a 12 week ‘fidget mat’ workshop alongside Mind in Kingston. The aim was to get people from our community to meet each other, to reduce isolation after 2 years of Covid and to create activity mats to give to our care homes for residents with dementia and to share and learn sewing, knitting and crocheting. Watching the friendships grow amongst beginners and these highly-skilled ladies was wonderful. Our face-to-face sessions were hosted by the wonderful team at Alfriston and members of the group really enjoyed meeting each other and swapping tips and learning new skills. The project was so popular that they are going to be carrying on the meetings, both by zoom and face-to-face.
Another offshoot of the success of this project is that members of the group are setting up other groups. To date they are setting up a felting group, a crochet group and an art exhibition.
We collaborated with the crafters from Sewing4kingston to make poppies from fabric remnants to raise money for the Royal British Legion. The GoodGym and Kingston libraries helped us to distribute poppies and keep the project as green as we can.
Thanks to another grant from Kingston council we continue to send Kindness Kits to support the wonderful work the staff at our Hospitals do. These are totes bags made by the volunteers which are then embroidered with a message and then filled with puzzles, painting by numbers or craft kits, toiletries, chocolates and knitted hearts. They have a hand written thank you card, many from school children.
We have sent 43 to A&E at Kingston, 73 to Ellis, Jasmine and Lilac wads at Tolworth and 16 to CAMHs.
We delivered 35 to the Macmillan team to celebrate Cancer nurse day.
We have given a few to individuals the borough who truly deserved a thank you from their community.
We worked with the newly launched Women’s Hub, part of Voices of Hope, to make keyrings with the VOH logo, filled knitted hearts and beautiful die cut cards for the ‘welcome’ bags given to those joining the domestic violence support group.
Dementia and delirium day
We delivered a trolley load of goodies to the staff involved in Dementia and Delirium Day
Dying Matters Awareness Week
We delivered mindful colouring books and pens, puzzle books, notebooks and chocolates to support staff involved in this cause.
We enjoyed the challenge of designing covers for catheter stands for Princess Alice Hospice. This helps de medicalised the patients room. We made bags for their belongings to be handed back to their relatives to bring more dignity to their passing.
We made ‘noughts and crosses’ bags from recycled materials and bottle tops to give to the learning disabled, the children’s wards, A&E and the mental health assessment rooms.
We also made lots of these bags to give to patients in Kingston Hospital. The entertainment system in the hospital is broken so volunteers are trying to come up with games they can sew. This ranges from colourful snakes and ladders, to droughts, soft patchworked stress balls and possibly even risk.