Knitting Queen brings community together to help homeless

Fiona Burnett with the blanket
Fiona Burnett with the blanket

A charity shop volunteer from Prestwick who knitted almost 700 blankets to raise money to help homeless and badly housed people is urging local people to get involved with a community knitting project.

Fiona Burnett (48), has volunteered at Shelter Scotland’s Prestwick shop for over 13 years and has knitted a blanket every week for the charity since starting in 2002 – that’s 676 blankets.

Fiona, who received praise from first minister Nicola Sturgeon for her volunteer work, is now calling on local people to get knitting and donate a knitted square to Shelter Scotland’s shop on Main Street. Each square should be 15 stitches by 15 rows and can be any colour.

This week she was at Kincase Primary School to collect over 60 squares knitted by school children and their families.

The donated squares will then be stitched together by Fiona to create a community blanket which will be sold off in a silent auction to be held in the Prestwick Shelter Scotland shop from 7th to 13th December. The completed blanket is expected to exceed six feet squared.

Every penny raised will go towards helping homeless and badly housed people in Scotland.

Fiona Burnett said: “I’ve been knitting for years because I really enjoy it. I never thought it could make a difference. I’m now hoping that other knitters in the community join me in creating a community blanket to show homeless people that Prestwick is doing something to help.

“The community blanket was meant to be small - a dozen or so squares. We’ve now got close to 100 and it’s growing day by day. It’s certainly going to be a big task to stitch them all together but I can’t wait to see the finished product. I hope it raises a lot of money for such a worthy cause.”

Earlier this year Fiona won national praise for her volunteering efforts and was honoured by The Guardian newspaper as their Volunteer of the Year 2015. She was also shortlisted for national awards, including charity Champion at the Scottish Charity Awards.

The blanket will be displayed in the Shelter Scotland shop window throughout the silent auction.

Kerry Ranking, manager of Prestwick’s Shelter Scotland shop, said: “The first blanket Fiona knitted all those years ago sold straight away, and raised £4 for Shelter Scotland. Since then the blankets have raised almost £3,000 – that’s enough to help 300 homeless and badly housed households through our free national helpline.

“The money Fiona’s blanket’s raise goes towards helping people in need. We’re just so pleased that she dedicated not only hours in the shop volunteering, but also her free time knitting for us.

“She’s one in a million and we can’t thank her enough.”

Fiona volunteers at the shop four days a week and has clocked almost 11,000 voluntary hours.

Fiona’s efforts have won the hearts of locals and tourists alike, who often donate wool to the shop to help Fiona knit her creations. While knitting the community blanket, Fiona has continued to knit and donate a regular blanket for sale in the shop. Each one takes her about three days to complete.

Knitted squares should be donated to Shelter Scotland’s shop on 107 Main St, Prestwick KA9 1JS. All other donations are welcome.


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