THIS year has thrown many hurdles our way. Not only has the coronavirus pandemic turned our daily lives up-side-down, but more and more people are experiencing a decline in mental health.

According to The Health Foundation, more than two-thirds of adults in the UK (69 per cent) report feeling extremely worried about the effect Covid-19 is having on their life.

Combatting these emotions can feel like a battle, but individuals and organisations are turning to creative solutions, and it is happening right here in Ryedale.

Thornton-le-Dale Village Hub is taking on the Buddy Bear Appeal to promote mental health awareness in the community.

The Crafty Hubbers have been knitting bees all through lockdown for the hub’s 2021 entry in the Large Village Category of RHS Britain in Bloom - representing the whole of Yorkshire.

After completing the bees, the army of knitters are aiming their knitting needles towards mental health awareness.

The Buddy Bear Appeal is similar to a chain letter; the idea of knitting three brightly-coloured bears to pass onto a friend, family member, neighbour or someone who is struggling.

The outcome? To put a smile on someone’s face and lighten their day.

“Mental health is often a hidden illness and can be a silent killer,” said Denise Rajab, from the Thornton-le-Dale Hub.

“Unfortunately, we have no idea how our friends, family, and neighbours are feeling, especially during this pandemic.

“The whole idea of our Buddy Bear is to contribute towards Mental Health Awareness, and show how important it is to help our community during this worrying time, by knitting as many Buddy Bears as possible and giving them to family and friends as a gesture.

“This gesture is to say you are not alone and that we all stand together as one.

“We hope that passing on a Buddy Bear and a knitting pattern will encourage others to knit and - hopefully - we will build a Buddy Bear community.”

Knitting doesn’t just result in a new jumper - research has found the hobby can also reduce depression and anxiety, slow the onset of dementia, and distract from chronic pain.

The rhythm of knitting helps with serotonin release, which is the chemical transmitter that helps regulate anxiety, happiness, and mood.

There is a strong connection between knitting and the feelings of calm and happiness in the brain.

Additionally the hobby, which is often associated with elderly, can help fight loneliness, a plague that affects more than 1.2 million older people in the UK, and increase a sense of usefulness and inclusion.

“Similar to a chain letter, the idea is that with one 100 gram ball of bright coloured wool, three bears are knitted,” Denise explained.

“The Buddy Bear is a symbol to show how much we care, and to let others know that they are not alone.

“It is widely known that knitting is good for our health and wellness, and with this in mind, the Crafty Hubbers thought what better way to highlight the awareness of mental health and provide comfort to those suffering from mental health, by knitting and selling Buddy Bears.

“Any money raised will be going to the Next Steps Mental Health Resource Centre, which supports mental health problems, wellbeing and prevents isolation and loneliness in Ryedale.

“The money raised will go to buying a portable loop system, so when they hold activities any one hard of hearing is not excluded.

“If you are not a knitter and would still like to send a Buddy Bear to someone, a selection are on sale in some of the shops in Thornton-le-Dale - just look for the posters.

“If you would like to knit Buddy Bears for our fundraising project, we will be happy to provide resources.”

The Thornton-le-Dale Hub has received full copyright permission from the publishers’ Search Press and the joint authors to use the pattern from the book, Knit Yourself Calm.

A copy of the knitting pattern is available on the Thornton-le-Dale Village Hub website and members of the Crafty Hubbers encourage other community hubs or individuals to get involved.

For more information, either phone the Thornton-le-Dale Hub on 07826 595048, email or visit