It has taken me ages to write this post. I hate controversy. I hate the idea of getting embroiled in online arguments. I try to live my online life by the following very simple ‘Be Like Bill’ philosophy.
But some things are a bit too important to just scroll by. Over the past few weeks I have seen Tweets and Facebook posts about how people shouldn’t knit for the Innocent Big Knit because Innocent is owned by Coca Cola.
When I first saw the posts I was a bit agog… Why would someone campaign against knitting small hats that benefit a charity that looks after older people? I think I’d have kept scrolling if it was a balanced set of posts educating people about the different charity knitting options that there are. However, it was the sheer mean spiritedness of the attack on a single knitting campaign that many people enjoy and that has a great benefit that stopped me.
What if we all stopped knitting the hats?
I won't dwell on the tone as it's subjective so all I have to say about the implication that knitters don’t know what they are knitting for is that I have faith that no one who knits for The Big Knit is so innocent (haha) as to not understand that Innocent (& possibly Coke) derives some benefit from The Big Knit campaign.
The reason for this post is the lack of consideration for Age UK, the charity that receives donations from Innocent as part of The Big Knit campaign. At no point in the flurry of posts was there an acknowledgement that The Big Knit has a measurable positive outcome for both Age UK and the people it serves. It is one thing to be anti big business but it is irresponsible not to explore the possible negative implications that would result if all of us stopped knitting the little hats. I could only guess at all of the possible benefits so I wrote to Age UK to check if there were any and if so, what were they. They were good enough to send me the following details:
The Big Knit has been running since 2003 and this year we are seeing the biggest Big Knit ever, as we are aiming to knit 2 million little hats.
Since its humble beginnings, The Big Knit has seen over 6 million woolly creations knitted and has raised over £2 million for Age UK. The money we raise from these little hats really does make a big difference, helping to keep so many older people warm and well in winter by funding local services such as:
- Sending ‘Winter Warmth’ packs to older people
- Providing information and advice about winter fuel payments, benefits, boiler replacements etc.
- Electric blanket testing
- Befriending services
- Emergency assistance
- Providing hot meals, including Christmas lunches
- …and much, much more.
And this is just the impact of the funds raised each year. Even beyond the services that the money raised can help to provide, the Big Knit has a huge social impact too.
It’s more than just a fundraiser, it gets people together
The big success of the Big Knit is that it is about so much more than just the money it raises. Although the campaign is in partnership with a company, it would not succeed without the support of the community groups who knit the little hats. Our network of local Age UK’s around the country and our partner charities in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales play a vital role in engaging their local communities.
The campaign also supports the charity’s work to tackle loneliness by bringing groups of older people together and connecting them with a unique and rewarding social activity – quite often this is intergenerational too, with many younger people and schools getting involved and knitting together.
The Big Knit also increases wider awareness of Age UK’s general work and the issues affecting older people in winter months. It also helps us to reach new audiences that we otherwise may not get to.
I am so pleased to be able to share the above. I won’t tell you how you should spend your knitting time, I won’t tell you how to best make use of your time to contribute to charities but I wanted to share the above as I don’t think that being supported by a big business makes a charity less knitworthy than any other nor does it mean that by knitting for them you are in some way being taken for a fool, particularly when taking part means that you are part of such a positive set of outcomes.
Right, I think I might sneak in a little ‘Little Hat’ knitting time before I cast on my next sample!
Wishing we could all just Knit & Let Knit xx
More details about The Big Knit are available on www.thebigknit.co.uk.
Should you be interested in finding out more about Coke and Innocent, there is a wealth of interesting articles online which include the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. I am also happy to debate any and all points related to whether or not big (and small) businesses should benefit from charitable activities but I would rather do it in person. I find long drawn out online comment battles exhausting and even worse, a waste of good knitting time. Xx
Also if you are knitting for The Big Knit and are ordering from me, please let me know by sending through your order confirm and I can send you The Big Knit magazine that Age UK sent me. I’m also sure I can find some DK yarn to pop in so you can make even more little hats x