Quilts for Care Leavers.

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.”


39 thoughts on “Quilts for Care Leavers.

  1. This is so beautiful. It made me cry. A dear friend of mine made one of my boys a quilt on his birth. It’s still treasured now. I’m sorry you lost yours. Thank you for sharing this. Just lovely Lemn.

  2. Ahhhh…she gave you that so you would always feel her love and feel held…how beautiful. I imagine you felt heartbroken to have lost your Gabi, but wonderful that you know the sentiment of it.
    Big love to Maggie and the quilters. X

  3. Happy and surprised to see my quilt featured. A wonderful project to be involved with. I was lucky to come from a family that was big, loud and loving. Knowing the importance of a simple hug I was so pleased to find Maggie and her fellow quilters. Thanks to you too Lemn, you are an inspiration.

  4. Wow, what a fantastic idea. I worked with children in care for most of my working life and know how much they will be appreciated by the young people, especially as each one is unique just like them. I often came across care leavers who had their personal information, photos and other ‘treasures,’ stored in old shoe boxes or something similar, and wondered if these kind people might also consider making quilted bags of some kind, for young people to keep items that are important to them safe. Just a thought.

      • I did ask them Lemn, and had a very positive conversation with a lovely lady….. don’t know if it was Maggie. I have leukaemia at present so am limited in how I can help practically, but we came up with a good solution and I am looking forward to getting involved.

  5. I think this is completely fabulous and very moving. I would like to help but my manual dexterity is absolutely rubbish so I can’t sew anything tidily however, I can cut material up, make tea and coffee, collect and deliver. I am Manchester based but I am away for work (children’s social care) half of my life. If there is anything I can do to support that doesn’t rely on regular weekly input and doesn’t need fine motor skills, please let me know.

  6. Such a beautiful thing to do. I think everyone should adopt the Gabi tradition.
    Thank you for sharing another amazing way of giving xxx

  7. What a wonderful initiative! I was gifted a quilt by my aunt just before I left Australia as a 17 year old for a year as an exchange student in Norway. That quilt was such an enormous comfort. It was ‘home’ to me and I treasured it. It’s ten years since I made a quilt, but this blog post has inspired me. Thanks, Lemn.

  8. I am a total supporter of this project. I am a more than “mature” quilter. In the 1950’s instead of being put into care from the Children’s home in Kensington where I was born, I was adopted out of it. Over the years I have made lots of sewn and embroidered things for both my adoptive parents, but the ones that give me the greatest comfort now, having lost both of them, are the quilts I made my late Daddy when I was his full time carer, his snugglies, which he adored. I still get his hug from still using them now.

  9. I love this idea. I have heard of quotes made for children who are in hospital and then this for people leaving care to go into the bigger world. I know many people within the mental health system who would cherish A quilt. People who are very lonely and people who feel very unloved. Also it would be a great thing for people who have gone through horrendous trauma. People recovering from addiction, recovering alcoholics Or drug addicts. Do you know any initiatives for quotes for them?

  10. Hiya,
    I’d like to donate two quilts/blankets. One, I’m afraid, is smaller than the size you’ve requested. It is 44 x 44 inches. The 2nd would be a crocheted blanket, made up of ‘Granny squares’. Are these of use to you?

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