Developing skills at Emilie House – the joys of knitting!


Developing skills at Emilie House – the joys of knitting!

Destitution, homelessness and the ban on working quickly erodes skills and confidence

05 December 2022

Developing skills at Emilie House – the joys of knitting!

Sarah, JRS’ textiles volunteer, supports residents of Emilie house to learn and develop embroidery, knitting and crochet skills. Each week she manages impressively to glide around the front room of the house, responding to calls for advice and help on a range of different creative projects.

As different individuals have grown more in confidence, Sarah encouraged them to be more independent in their creations, with some ladies beginning to take more of a lead in facilitating the sessions; sharing their refined skills with their housemates.

Now, we have a house full of gorgeous, homemade furnishings. And 6 residents with beautiful head warmers and hats, each made uniquely to their style.

Sharing the fun

Recently, the residents held a session at the JRS centre in Wapping where they passed on their new skills to our wider community of refugee friends and volunteers. Our knitting connoisseur, Mariam*, designed and co-led a session where attendees could make their own head warmer for the colder months. Wool and needles had been generously donated so that everyone had their own to take away and continue practising with.

As with every textile session in which I have accompanied the residents of Emilie House, the atmosphere was a joyful mix of welcome peace and quiet, interrupted regularly by outbursts of teasing whilst people helped each other to get the hang of the fiddly practise. Men, women, family members and volunteers came too.

Persistence, patience, lots of laughter and a delicious lunch left everyone feeling fulfilled (and full). Using ones’ hands to create something new, having a finished article to show for one’s efforts is so satisfying. he opportunity to be in a safe space with others is something we can so easily take for granted. I know how much our refugee friends are looking forward to more in-person activities soon.

Here’s what one refugee friend said about the session: “It was fun and nice. The food was amazing. People want to come to be with other people, we can tell more people about it next time.”

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Jesuit Refugee Service UK
The Hurtado Jesuit Centre
2 Chandler Street, London E1W 2QT

020 7488 7310

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