Make A Difference, Yorkshire Spoolettes
Comments 47

Help Needed – #sparksomethinggood

Yesterday I received an email from Alex who blogs at Sewrendipity asking for help from the Yorkshire Spoolettes to join her and others in making special tote bags for the local oncology units and hospices.  Of course you don’t have to have been to any of the Spoolette meet ups to volunteer – if you sew and are from Yorkshire or there abouts yours automatically a Yorkshire Spoolette!  And if you’re in the UK but not local read on as there are going to be similar things going on around the country.

Here’s an example of what will be sewn on the day – all cutting out will be done in advance (yay) so there’s only sewing to do!

M&S decor Bag example

And here’s the syringe driver…

Syringe Driver Unit

Here’s the email from Alex which has all the information you’ll need to volunteer, including links.  When you register and volunteer it can take 24 hours before you receive a confirmation email that you’ve been accepted as a volunteer.


Hello Ali and Amanda

Hope you’re well!

I have a mission for the Yorkshire Spoolettes, hope you’re keen to help!

M&S is organising a very cool sewing project in Leeds on 18th and 19th April and I was hoping you can lend a hand to spread the word, and even join if it’s not too far away or complicated. I will be there on the 18th for sure and a bit on the 19th as well in the morning, but dashing back to London for a meeting in the afternoon, so would be great to meet or see you again (looking at you Amanda :D).

In a few words, we’re taking over shop floor space in M&S Briggate store and turning it into a sewing studio, complete with sewing machines and all necessary tools. Over the two days, we are inviting people to volunteer their time and sewing skills to make special tote bags out of M&S fabric décor that is no longer needed. The bags are pre-cut and especially designed to be used in hospitals’ palliative care or oncology units and in hospices for a piece of medical equipment called Syringe driver unit (please see attached image to get an idea). We will be donating them to Macmillan Nurses at St James Hospital in Leeds, St Gemma’s Hospice and Wheatfields and Wakefield hospice, who will be handing them out to their patients. As they are single use because of infection control, such bags are always needed, so we are hoping volunteering with us will spark something good and people will continue making them. Each one will make a difference to a patient going through a very difficult time in their life. Apart from being very practical (some patients carry the syringe drivers in plastic bags or in socks pinned to their robes), the fact that someone took the time to make them by hand brings a bit of joy to the recipients of our bags. If you add the recycling aspect of reusing the M&S décor (please see attached image of what a completed bag looks like), we believe this is a very worthwhile project to get involved in. More info on our charity partner’s site:

We have set ourselves a target of 100 bags that can only be achieved with the help of some lovely volunteers! We can take up to 80 people, in 2h slots over the 2 days. The volunteers do not need to bring anything. If they can sew a straight line, we’ll be happy to have them join us! If they are experienced, even better, we might just smash our target! To manage the event better, we are working with a social media site called Neighbourly, where you can register as a volunteer, for the particular slot you can attend (10-12, 12-14, 14-16 and 16-18), on the 18th or the 19th April. Each slot is an ‘event’, so you will have to scroll down to find the right one on the right-hand side. This is the link to access Neighbourly and register:

The event is part of a national volunteering campaign M&S is running all over the country, called Spark Something Good. Every month for 24 months we’re going to a different city (London, Dublin, Manchester, Swansea and Edinburgh so far) and we ask our customers and staff to volunteer for 24 local projects that will make a difference in their community. So even if you have friends who don’t sew, there are 23 other really great causes to get behind! See all projects in Leeds and Bradford on Neighbourly:

We would very much appreciate your help in spreading the word in the sewing community, so we can fill all our volunteering spaces and make as many bags as possible.I have prepared some assets to post on your Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram and a poster to print out and display. Please also use #SparkSomethingGood, so we can see your posts.

Do get in touch with any questions and I hope to see you in the sewing studio in M&S Briggate on the 18th or 19th April!

Many thanks and happy sewing,


SSG Leeds Twitter


There’s already me, my mum, Margaret and Karen who have volunteered.  I hope a few more will be able to too.

Any questions please get in touch – if I can’t answer them I’ll contact Alex.

Thanks Ladies!


  1. What a great idea. Well done to everyone involved up there😃 Pity I’m so far away but I’ll look out to see if one happens near me.

    • It should be fun as well as helping out a great cause. It reminds me of the Sewing Bees organised in the ‘olden days’! Hope there is something near you 🙂

  2. This sounds amazing! Such a shame it’s on a weekday and I’ll be at work 😦
    Will share your post – hope lots of people sign up! x

    • Thankyou!!
      It’s about the only thing good about working shifts – I’m off when everyone else is at work, and at work when everyones in bed! 🙂

  3. Good old M&S and I hope you can get as many of your Spoolettes together as possible. It will probably be fun and all in a very good cause.

  4. Fiona M says

    I’ll volunteer for the Tuesday, can we only do one slot? (I could potentially do a ‘double shift’). And maybe Dee will join me.

      • Fiona M says

        Cool, just emailed Dee to see if she’s interested in coming along.

        • Fiona M says

          I’m confirmed for slots 1 & 3 on Tuesday, Dee is doing slot 1 and seeing if she feels up to a second round.
          Looking forward to seeing you all!

    • Hi Fiona,
      Sorry for the delay in replying but you would be more than welcome to stay providing we have spaces available. Also this is a project that you continue with in own time should you wish. As the bags are single patient use there is always a need for them.
      Thank you so much for volunteering, best wishes, Julie makingforcharity

    • I’m not sure. They’re organising all sorts of events in different cities but they’re not all sewing related.

    • Hi again! I’ve just looked into it a bit more. I’ve not found anything happening in Edinburgh but there’s loads of info here…. The lady who runs this charity is the same one who’s co-ordinating the Leeds sewing event.
      After reading this I’m going to see if I can organised an event after this one for our local Macmillan unit. A get together for a good cause maybe every couple of months. There’s instructions in the downloads section for making the bags needed. Maybe you could do one too up your way? 😀

    • Hi Linda, sorry it’s taken a while to reply. We actually came to Edinburgh with the M&S spark something good campaign in March. We did two hugely successful days at the Princes Road branch and made 215 syringe driver bags and 85 heart shaped pillows for patients to use following mastectomies. These were then taken to The Edinburgh Western General Hospital, oncology ward 6 to be distributed to their patients. Because each pillow and bag are single patient use there is always a need for them. If you are interested in making and donating items for them then you can email me I can give you further information, post a free starter pack etc sorry you missed it, there are photos etc on our Facebook page at

  5. corrineappleby says

    This is a great idea. Such a shame I’m at work – boo!

  6. Hopefully something will be arranged down South so we can join in too. I would happily make a few and post them if that was an option.

  7. What a brilliant project, we run a similar one for women with Breast Cancer making heart shaped cushions for them post op – it makes a real difference and it is so nice to contribute. Good luck, its a bit too far for me to travel but I hope the event goes well!

    • Thanks! I’m sure it will, it looks really well organised, there’ll be sparks flying off our machines! It looks like it’s gonna be a fun and worthwhile day 😃

  8. There doesn’t seem to be an event near me but I have bookmarked the pattern page from the site you gave and will make some bags to send.

  9. This looks like great initiative and a great use of M and S fabric end of lines. I wonder if other retailers might donate in the future.

    • Looking at the charity website who’ve been making these a while it looks like companies donate their fabric sample books. Might see if I can get hold of some and set up something near me after the M&S one. 😀

      • Good idea. What I’ve seen people with in hospitals look like the fabric has come from the arc and men with flowery bags doesn’t add to feeling more dignified. There must be better sample books to be used.

        • This project was started up 5 years following a request from the Macmillan Nurses in The Liverpool Womens hospital wanting fabric bags for their ladies who were using syringe drivers. They were carrying the drivers around in plastic carrier bags. Since the project started around 10,000 bags have been made and donated across the country. Some areas were using carrier bags, others were using socks pinned to the patients clothing, others used tubigrip pinned to clothing. The bags are made and donated by volunteers, often using recycled fabric. Because the bags are single patient use it can be that donations have dried up and therefore the men may receive bags that are more suited to females. The bags can also be used to carry drainage bottles following breast surgery.
          Events such as this can help to spread the word, in particular within the sewing community and hopefully more bags, for both men and women in suitable fabric can be made and donated. They make a real difference both practically and by giving patients who receive them a lift. If you want any more information about how you can help, especially with bags in your own local hospital then you can email me on the email below.

          • Thank you for that explanation. Sorry, I didn’t mean to sound unkind about men being given flowery bags. I meant to salute the mass production plan that would mean there were enough for men not to have flowery ones unless they wanted them.

  10. Pingback: #SparkSomethingGood – Update | T H I M B E R L I N A

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