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The Peace Blanket is a collective project completed by women mostly from Stockton but also Middlesbrough and Richmond. It is a collection of 64 squares and each square is sewn, embroidered or appliqued by individual women to reflect images of what peace means to them. The squares are joined together to produce a blanket.
The project was inclusive, open to any woman and free. We held workshops in a local community centre, Arc, North Tees Hospital, Poppy Rose and Richmond. Amongst the women, there were those seeking sanctuary, women with mental health problems, carers, young women and women having treatment for cancer. All materials were sourced from donations, often fabric which belonged to a relative who had passed away. We fundraised through Stockton Soup to pay for a local artist to put the squares together. We are a diverse group of women and were often joined at the workshops by local residents.
We wanted to develop a beautiful blanket which could be displayed to show the results of women working together, but most importantly the legacy is lasting friendships and a greater understanding of communities.
The inspiration for this Peace Blanket arose from the life of Jo Cox MP, her death and the rise in incidents of hate crime. Jo urged us all to find ‘more in common than that which divides us’ and we wanted to bring women together, from all walks of life, to build sustainable communities.
We established workshops and invited women to come along to design and make a square to represent what peace means to them. There are 64 squares in total completed by women from Stockton, Middlesbrough and Richmond. The workshops were open to all women but included women who are surviving cancer, those seeking asylum, women with mental health problems and carers. Each square was lovingly put together to remember happy times, reflect wishes for the future and share what makes them feel at peace. The Blanket was put together with love and care by the talented Kim McDermottroe.
All the fabric was donated, much of it was given to us by family members who had lost loved ones who were sewers and had a stash of material. This made the Blanket even more special. We were also grateful to local business who donated fabric and time. Thanks also to ‘Stockton Soup’ for crowd funding us so we could finish the Blanket to a professional standard.
There are two legacies left by the Blanket, firstly we have made something beautiful and we hope you enjoy it. Secondly, we have made lasting friendships. When women get together they achieve great things, we hope you agree and like our Blanket.