Council staff get knitting for children in Africa

Silvia Anderson, Anne Rainey, Karen McMeekan, Helen McBride and Liz Dickson, who helped knit more than 600 jumpers for babies in impoverished areas of Kenya and Uganda. INNT 41-031-FP
Silvia Anderson, Anne Rainey, Karen McMeekan, Helen McBride and Liz Dickson, who helped knit more than 600 jumpers for babies in impoverished areas of Kenya and Uganda. INNT 41-031-FP
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A caring council worker stitched together an army of knitters which has made hundreds of jumpers for poor children in Africa.

Karen McMeekan persuaded colleagues, family and friends to get their knitting needles out to help charity LIFT (Labour In Faith and Trust).

As a result an incredible 628 jumpers were hand-knitted for impoverished babies in Kenya and Uganda.

Karen, an administrator at Newtownabbey Council, sent an email to fellow staff encouraging them to take part.

The 50-strong knitting circle, including staff’s family and friends, made 556 sweaters over a period of three months.

In addition, workers at her dentist in Carrickfergus, Clements Dental Care, knitted 56 jumpers, while an elderly lady from the Belfast City Mission left 10 jumpers at her home.

An employee at Dunelm Mill also knitted several jumpers.

The pull-overs were sent out to Kenya Sunbeam Ministries and the WAAKISA charity on Friday (Oct 12).

Karen heard about the appeal through her daughter’s boyfriend’s mother in Moneymore, Co Londonderry.

It is being assisted by 1st Magherafelt Presbyterian Church.

Karen, who knitted 30 jumpers herself, said she was overwhelmed by the response.

She added: “I’m delighted and never imagined we’d get so much. I was hoping to get to 100 jumpers and it’s sixfold that amount. The results have been tremendous and it was a great team-building exercise too.

“It was relaxing and quite addictive.

“I have not knitted for 25 years but it was such a simple pattern. People gave it a go because it’s a challenge and it gives you a sense of personal achievement.

“Beginners took around 10 days to knit a jumper and experienced knitters did it in a day-and-a-half.”

While there was a set pattern, a number of variations were produced and they were categorised into either day-wear range, designer range or evening range.

Such was their enjoyment that council staff are in the process of setting up a Facebook page so charities can contact them to take part in similar knitting schemes.

Kenya Sunbeam Ministries care for children who have been orphaned by AIDS, are HIV positive, or have a disability which does not allow them to live in the community.

WAAKISA (Mercy) is a locally-based Christian charity working with young girls in Uganda who fall pregnant.

Further details about LIFT can be found on their website http://www.liftni.org/