“Housing for Women” Charity quilt, by Caroline Wilkinson
Dulwich Quilters was contacted in May of this year by Leanne Werner who works for Housing for Women in Brixton, one of the 10 London boroughs where the charity works. She asked us to make a fundraising quilt to celebrate their 85th Anniversary.
The brief from Leanne sounded quite straightforward; to make a quilt with 85 squares!! Quilters to use their imagination and their own materials as we are in lockdown (with a preference for a white or cream background and a preference for words of empowerment to be stitched into the blocks). I soon realised that we would have to get help from other quilt groups. Many quilters, including our own group, had been working hard making scrubs and masks for hospitals and local care homes and I hoped that fatigue hadn’t set in. I also knew that there were other group quilts being made for worthy causes and I was conscious that, although quilters in theory had more time on their hands, many people were finding life quite stressful and to be asked to contribute to one more cause might be all too much in these difficult days.
However, I sent out requests to quilters and embroiderers in Guild Regions 1 and 2 - and anyone else I could think of who would be sympathetic to the project and could produce a block by the end of August.
In mid-July, there were moments of complete panic. I hit a low point and thought that we would never achieve our target, but I need not have worried. I have been overwhelmed by the generosity, resourcefulness and enthusiasm which has been shown in these very strange times and from quilters I have never met.
Huge thanks to the members of Wimbledon Quilters, Beckenham Quilters, Half Moon Stitchers in Herne Hill, tutors working with Fine Cell work, to some quilters in Kent, and to members of our Dulwich quilt group for their contributions. I am indebted to Jane Steward for alerting members of London Quilters, who have sent in some wonderful blocks and unstinting support throughout from Alison Scrimshaw of Region 2.
I have been touched by the imagination that members have put into producing their blocks, and especially by some beginner quilters who responded to the challenge. We have all the blocks which will be set 9x9 with 4 smaller blocks on the corners of the borders giving us 85 in total! Every quilt tells a story and we hope this one will be a reminder that through the power of stitch we can help to better the lives of women in Brixton.
“Housing for Women” is today a registered charity and independent housing association. It works to build a more equal society for women and to provide much needed safe homes, especially for those women escaping domestic violence and abuse. The charity also supports women escaping trafficking and modern-day slavery, provides housing and community-based support to vulnerable mothers leaving prison and their children and also provides help and accommodation for women with mental health issues.