Pupils knit bonding squares for premature babies to tackle hospital shortage

Students and staff at an Essex secondary school are helping new mothers and their premature babies bond more quickly through a knitting project.

Forest Hall School students and staff have been giving up their spare time to knit and weave wool “bonding squares”, which will be donated to the neonatal unit of St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

The project came about after the partner of one of the school’s staff, who works at the hospital, mentioned they were experiencing a shortage.

Donated in pairs, one square is placed with the premature baby and the other worn against the mother’s skin. The squares are then swapped daily so the baby can smell the mother in its incubator to help with the bonding process.

“We have students knitting and weaving squares during their lunch breaks and mums, nans and members of staff are knitting them at home so the whole community is getting involved,” said Claire Gannon, a textiles and child development teacher at the school.

“Our students like to get behind a cause and they are really enjoying doing it. It’s proving quite a sociable thing to do as they come and knit while they have their lunch.”

A spokesperson for Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust added: “We’re really grateful to the volunteers who have donated their spare time to knit these squares. We’ve actually now received over 6,000 and have had to ship multiple packs to units around the country.”