“I started Knit Aid in the summer of 2015 as a response to the ongoing reports of the refugee crisis that has been gripping our continent. I had lots of great quality chunky yarn lying around at home, so I decided to use it for some good and knitted some chunky beanies and snoods to send on to the refugees living in Calais. I wanted the donations to be made to the highest quality, the same as I’d make for myself or a loved one.
This knitting project sparked an idea… Could I gather other knitters to do the same? Knitters are always looking for excuses to knit new projects, and knitting for refugees is the perfect way to channel those needs. I set up a Facebook page and it grew in popularity instantly. And that’s where Knit Aid began!
Since last summer, we’ve sent thousands of warm, quality knitted donations like beanies, snoods, scarves, gloves, socks and blankets to refugee camps in France, Greece, Jordan, Turkey and Syria. We’ve encouraged our knitters to attach notes with their donations to show the recipient that there are people who care about them. We’ve been moved on several occasions by these messages attached to lovingly made knits.
Knits have been sent from men, women and children all over the UK and the entire world – as far as USA, Japan, Australia..! The kindness of knitters and their solidarity with refugees has been overwhelming!
We run knitting workshops in London helping people to make their donations, and we also sell unique knitting merchandise. These all help to fundraise for refugee aid charities. We organised a mass knit-in in February, where we gathered as many knitters as we could fit in one place to knit squares which we made into beautiful blankets for refugee families. The event also fundraised money for refugee aid charities sending other types of aid to refugees.
From a personal level, the refugee crisis means a lot to me. My parents migrated to the UK from Bangladesh in the 1950s, and have worked so hard to build our wonderful and free life here in the UK. I can’t help but compare myself to every single one of those people who have had to leave their country for various reasons. That could be me, or my parents, siblings, daughter… My life is worth exactly the same as theirs. They are entitled to exactly the same as me.
I hope Knit Aid can continue to collect knits made with love from all around the world and send them on to people who need them, for as long as it’s needed.”
Thank you, Shahnaz, Founder of Knit Aid, for sharing your story!