I first got an idea that something was going on when Mona, who has helped at the Centre for over 30 years, went looking for wool and asked me to photocopy some knitting patterns. That was back in November. ‘Pat is knitting for the homeless,’ she said. Pat was a volunteer in the kitchen at the Centre for many years until ill health and, lately, Parkinson’s stopped her coming.
I help run the South Croydon Day Centre for the Retired, a small, homely place for the elderly so that they can have a safe place to meet others and join in activities. The Centre aims to help alleviate isolation and loneliness for those living alone in the vicinity. Croydon is a borough south of London. It has many deprived areas and recently has fallen into financial difficulties and the local authorities has become bankrupt so a lot of care work has been trimmed back or without funding.
So, the clicking of needles and the weaving of wool went on behind the scene. Eventually, I was told that Pat, Mona and some others have been knitting for our friends living in the street, which we serve and support all year long with Sant’Egidio.
Perhaps I have been talking too much to them about my service to the poor I do with the Community? And so it was, that in the past week I was given the fruits of their labour: all the beautifully made hats, scarves, and mittens, different sizes and all handmade and fascinatingly colourful, packed in a big bag ready to be wrapped. A lot of the scarves and hats were made by Julia, who, sadly, can no longer come to the Centre due to her poor health, with problems with walking and breathing. She can’t even use needles as she can’t hold them steady in her hands. Instead, she uses a weaving loom, which she can hold on her lap.
All this weaving reminds me of Connie, of fond memory. She had some serious health problems, likely genetic, and had difficulties holding a pen, walking and talking properly. We used to have to bring her to the Centre from her little flat provided by the local government, as she was on benefit. Once she said to me when I helped her home, ‘look on the chair over there.’ On it, I saw a stack of scarves, knitted by her, neatly folded. “For the homeless” she said very proudly to me. Such generosity and selflessness! I miss her.
Is this kindness? No doubt it is. What the ladies have done is thoughtfulness and generosity from a human being to another human being although they have never met. I am impressed. I am humbled. No one is too poor he/she cannot help another person. Especially at Christmas.
Frank, Community of Sant'Egidio, London
There are many ways to help make Christmas for homeless, elderly and lonely a reality. We believe everyone should get a warm meal, some good company and a great personalised present. To make this all happen, we need your help.