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Compassionate crafters send homemade hearts to patients and families

Posted on 7 May 2020

Local volunteers have handmade pairs of love hearts to spread a message of hope and kindness to hospital patients and care homes during the pandemic. 

With over 1,000 hearts distributed so far, the kind-hearted crafters have joined forces with volunteers as part of the ‘Hearts for Crosshouse’ initiative, set up by frontline nurse Karen Davis and Admin Officer, Irene Broughton.

Irene said: “It is such a difficult time for us all, and our hearts go out to the poor families who are unable to comfort unwell family members in hospitals and care homes.

“Karen and I work in the hospital’s Combined Assessment Unit and we came up with the handmade hearts idea after seeing a similar hearts appeal from an English hospital online. 

“The hearts are designed as a way to help comfort families who are unable to visit their loved ones due to the coronavirus lockdown restrictions. Each set of hearts is made in an identical pair, one of our hearts goes to the patient and we send the other as a gesture of kindness and compassion to the family.”

To prevent any possible contamination, all donated hearts are placed in sealed bags and dated to ensure those receiving the hearts only open them after 72 hours have elapsed.

Complying with recommended social distancing, hearts are then collected by volunteers and delivered via doorstep delivery to Karen and Irene before being distributed safely to patients and family members.

Irene added: “The support from everyone has been truly overwhelming as crafters from all over North and East Ayrshire dedicate their time to create sewn fabric, crocheted and hand-knitted hearts.

“We would like to thank everyone who has contributed, and special thanks go to local Irvine business CR8HQ for creating and donating the message cards that get placed in with each of the handmade hearts.

“Me and Karen are touched by everyone’s kindness and we really do appreciate the love, care and effort that goes into every heart donated by our volunteers.”

One such volunteer is retired nursing assistant Pat Nisbet (pictured below left) who decided to get involved after her 92-year-old Dad was admitted into a care home during the early lockdown, after spending seven months in hospital.

Missing her Dad terribly, Pat said: “Within one hour of admission, I was only allowed to see Dad for five minutes in his new home before the lockdown. I know he didn’t fully understand the situation as he has vascular dementia and also fully lost his mobility whilst in hospital.

“Like so many others in my situation, I am finding it hard not being able to see him or visit him, but knowing that he is in safe hands is helping me through until the day I can see him again to hold his hand and tell him he is safe.

“I’ve really been enjoying making the hearts during lockdown as I find the crafting process so relaxing. I hope the hearts will bring a smile to people in a similar situation as me and Dad as we all find positive ways to get through this very challenging time in our lives.”

Another passionate volunteer is North Ayrshire Council employee and Ayrshire Craft Group member, Lisa Owen (pictured right) who is helping to run the ‘Hearts for Crosshouse’ Facebook page while coordinating the distribution of her own handmade hearts and donations to local care homes.

Lisa said: “Since getting involved, I’ve made 70 pairs of hearts in total and I’ve been given hearts made by local people of all ages including Emma Coombs, age 10 from Kilwinning and donations from Mansfield Trinity Church and the kind staff and customers from Tesco in Saltcoats.

“I heard about ‘Hearts for Crosshouse’ via the Ayrshire Craft Group and I wanted to help because it makes me sad to think of patients in hospital and care home residents who are separated from their loved ones at this sad and worrying time.”

Lisa is now preparing the next batch of handmade hearts to be distributed to local care homes.

She added: “I am delighted to have the support of my employer as the Council have kindly covered the postage cost of this week’s deliveries to 21 care homes throughout North Ayrshire.

“The best thing is seeing everyone working together to make and distribute the hearts and this challenging time has really reminded me of how kind and thoughtful people can be. It is very uplifting to me knowing that our hearts are helping to spread a message of love and compassion to others during these difficult times.”

For tutorials and crafting patterns, visit the ‘Hearts for Crosshouse’ Facebook group and find out more about how you can get involved: https://www.facebook.com/groups/171581730556903/