Maggie Lloyd Jones was a solicitor working in child protection/safeguarding for 30 years before retiring in Leeds in 2015. Maggie supported The Leeds Christmas Dinners in a variety of ways but in 2018 she had an idea. She explains “you said that when you were 12 and were placed in childrens homes no one hugged you and a hug is all you wanted. I had a Eureka moment. So I set up two facebook pages. One is an open page called Quilts for Christmas Dinners
and a closed group which you can request to join called Quilts for Care Leavers.”
Through her facebook pages Maggie’s clarion call for quilters spread throughout the country. There are now 458 members in the closed facebook group. They are a mixed bunch of old and young; lawyers and social workers, foster carers and care leavers; siblings or other family members from the generous quilting fraternity. I’ve been told that this project has given some of them a renewed interest in quilting,.
All the quilts came to Maggies living room: over 120 of them last Christmas. 50 were collected by Liz Fossu for Leeds Christmas Dinner, and a special one for one of the Leeds volunteer who was himself a care leaver and now a social worker. Barnsley Christmas Dinner received 17 and Manchester received 50. At Maggies request, all of the quilts were displayed, unwrapped, for the diners to choose. She wasn’t sure that they would want one anyway. They were a total hit.
The quilts all came with notes from the makers and each one of them is one hundred percent unique.
One care leaver said that “a quilt is the best form of support I can have, because even tho’ the LA (Local Authority) support is good and yes, they could do with more…..a quilt is there 24/7”
Maggie says “Be proud: this project is a seed fallen from the dinners. Not only that, but I am aware of at least 2 more potential Christmas Dinners coming from people who are involved in this project.” We are aiming for 1000 quilts this year.
Maggie Lloyd Jones continues enthusiastically “I know that some folk were making quilts on Boxing Day. I’ve just started asking how may quilts we have either completed or unfinished at this point: we can cover 4 dinners so far, that’s two hundred quilts . Now we are looking to become a charity. The charity will be Q4CL – Quilts for care leavers.”
The first time I left my mother was just fourteen days after the first time I met her. I was 21. She was 42. On leaving she gave me a white piece of folded material. Each layer was a little thicker than cobweb. It was at least fifteen years before I discovered what this meant. Ethiopian mothers give a particular material to their child. The child keeps it for life. It is called A Gabi. If you wear the Gabi your mother is holding you. TheGabi can be used as a shawl, a scarf, a bedspread….. Not knowing any of this… I lost it when I moved apartment.This gift and the loss symbolizes how my ignorance and my need have pulled each other in opposite directions. Still these quilts are the british version of the Gabi.
The quilter Elaine Mullen says “who better to receive the gift of a quilt than a young person setting of into the world often alone. A quilt is there when you’re cold, Ill or just need comfort. It covers you it warms you, it cushions you it’s just a hug when you need it.”
Another quilter Lynda Payne said “When I first became aware of Maggie Lloyd-Jones initiative, it struck a chord and if I can help in some small way to make a young person feel loved and hugged then it is immensely rewarding.”