As part of plans to enhance the town for the benefit of the local community and for visitors, a group of Leiston residents have been getting involved in a community-led ‘yarn bombing’ project.
Creative Leiston residents have been knitting and crocheting a huge variety of items which have been popping up across the town, including at Leiston Library, Nichols Family Butchers, a post box, the Co-Op's CoffeeLink café and at Leiston Surgery.
Many of the yarn-bombers are clinically extremely vulnerable and have been shielding during the pandemic and got involved in the project to improve their mental health. There are currently approximately 400 people involved in the project, which aims to help brighten the town and boost the local economy by attracting visitors and encouraging residents to shop locally.
The project builds upon town improvement work being carried out by East Suffolk Council with Leiston Town Council and Leiston Together. As part of this enhancement work, local businesses are also being encouraged to tidy up their shop fronts, damaged or missing signs are being replaced and community litter picks are being organised with partner organisations.
Jo Thain, East Suffolk Council’s Leiston Change Manager said: “This is an incredible project generated entirely by the local community and which has real potential to improve the mental wellbeing of those involved, and of local residents who can enjoy the artwork on display. In addition, the project is helping to enhance the appearance of the town and increase community pride. Everyone is welcome to get involved!”
A spokesperson from Leiston Town Council said: “The Town Council are pleased to engage the community in such an activity which helps people recover from lockdown.”
Doris Long, a member of the group who created a knitted tray of drinks to go on display outside the Royal Standard said: “I got involved as I wanted to put a smile of people’s faces. I live alone and I just wanted to do something to make people feel happy.”
The yarn-bombers have been liaising directly with local businesses and seeking permission to put their work up in shop windows and outside premises. With support from the business community, work will be on display outside the Coffee Link café, Leiston Surgery, the Royal Standard, Coopers, Additions and in many private gardens. The group have also been making bunting for display in the town centre, as part of the reopening of the high street.
The project will also support the work of the Leiston Community Land Trust, who are fundraising for the creation of the Leiston Church Community Garden, which is to be built to the side of the United Reformed Church in the High Street.
The displays will all be complete in preparation for Suffolk Day on Monday 21 June. This will include an exhibition of works from Alde Valley Academy students displayed in The Long Shop Museum who are opening their doors to the community for free on the day.
Anyone wishing to get involved can join the group on Facebook or contact Jo Thain on 01394 444654.
Donations of wool are also welcome.