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Published Wednesday 1 Aug 2018

Scores of bags have been made and filled with goodies by the Common Unity Project Aotearoa.

Hours of work have gone into the more than 70 Care Bags that have recently been gifted to Hutt Hospital’s Emergency Department (ED). Each bag is full of items for people who come into ED, such as knitted hats and slippers, toiletries, toys and books.

The bags will be handed out to patients and their supporters whenever staff feel a bit of extra care is needed.

The Care Bags project was kick-started by ED nurse Angela Campbell, after she reached out to the Common Unity Project Aotearoa (CUPA) a few weeks back.

“We’d just had a really busy and stressful few weeks in ED,” Angela says. “So I contacted CUPA knowing they’re a great group of people who do so much good, hoping they’d want to help nourish the health care system and its workers.”

CUPA is a community-based urban development project. Their mission is to “grow food, skills, leadership and enterprise”. After hearing from Angela about the work they do at the hospital’s front line, CUPA founder Julia Milne jumped at the chance to pull together bags of goodness for the ED.

She called on the Boomerang Bags team to see if they would make some bags, appealed for donations through their Facebook page and reached out to crafters around the Hutt Valley. She received an incredible response. So many items flooded in to CUPA, they held a working bee to fill all the bags.

“Hospitals are places of long waits and worry. Our nurses gather supplies, knit, make, connect and resource, all outside of their roles so as to be able to meet the ever increasing, heart-breaking needs of people in our community. We all just wanted to help them.”

Julia was delighted to be able to give back to the hospital, having come here for cancer treatment ten years ago. “The doctors and nurses who treated me were amazing, and I just wanted to pass that on. Community connectedness keeps us all well.”

One of the knitters, Cathie Cooper, says she was also really happy to get her needles flying for such a great purpose. “My family and I have had many dealings with the hospital over the years and it’s lovely to be able to give something back for all the wonderful care we’ve received, particularly at times of great sadness.”

To give a sense of the scale of the Care Bags project, there are 56 pairs of slippers among the goodies, and 32 hats. Many vehicles and trollies were needed to get it all into the hospital.

And Julia’s not finished yet. Her next idea is to plant an edible garden here at Hutt Hospital, she’s hoping that will happen soon.

For more on CUPA visit their website here.

Pictured below (L-R); Julia Milne, CUPA founder, Angela Campbell, ED nurse