With the government’s Covid-19 social distancing guidelines continually being updated in response to rising infection rates, the UK Hand Knitting Association has written to Boris Johnson urging him to recognise the vital role of craft and yarn shops during these difficult and uncertain times, and to consider designating art, craft and yarn shops as essential retail so they can stay open in the event of another lockdown.
In the Association’s letter to the prime minister, Mike Wilson, chairman of the UKHKA, says: “Craft and yarn shops have a unique place in their communities and have been hard hit by the lockdown. They are one of this country’s greatest assets, often run by selfl ess people who themselves see the social community service and friendship they provide a greater call than the need to generate wealth. You could say they represent the best of us. Scores of them have been making PPE for their local NHS, organising Scrub Hubs and mobilising their customers to volunteer when the country called for action.
“Now we are calling on you to recognise the vital role they play in our great society.”
Annabelle Hill of the UK Hand Knitting Association believes keeping craft shops open will be particularly important for mental health support during a winter lockdown, when colder weather may keep people indoors for longer periods, but also because they play a vital role in supporting local communities. “There is significant scientific evidence about the mental health benefits of crafting – we all know that it makes us feel calmer,” she says. “But also, craft shops have been playing such a vital role in their community; looking after those who are distancing, running online groups to help people stay in touch and feel less socially isolated, and giving us access to our craft through phone orders and local delivery for example. We need them to be able to keep doing this if there is another lockdown.
“They have been a massive support to us, and we want them to know how much we value them.”
To show your support, Annabelle suggests using UKHKA’s website for its Find a Yarn Shop map and list, with information about the services that each shop is able to offer. “Even if you don’t have a shop in your area, you can still support a yarn shop somewhere in the country,” she says. “Just pick up the phone and get in touch with them.”