If you were asked whether you were willing to help give a sick or distressed child some warmth and comfort, I doubt many would say no.

Project Linus offers those exact things to vulnerable children by giving them the chance to cuddle something - their own comforting quilt or blanket.

Children who are in vulnerable positions, sick, or distressed, often in hospitals, in care or dealing with a traumatic situation have been getting a comforting hug from Project Linus UK quilts since the year 2000.

And that is where the super crafty, sewing machine queens that read The Scottish Farmer come in. The project runs on donations of new, homemade, washable quilts in all sizes. They also need donations of fabric that their regular sewers can use to make the quilts.

Elspeth Russell, was the Scottish co-ordinator of the project until recently, and we meet at her home in Hamilton, in ‘the midden’, as she calls it, which is her sewing room. It is packed from floor to ceiling with fabric, half made quilts, paperwork and a stack of quilts and blankets just waiting to be picked up and distributed to children.

Project Linus UK is a community interest company (No. 08422226), a voluntary organisation, which was started in the USA back in 1995, where a young girl who was suffering leukaemia couldn’t get through the treatment without her security blanket. An article appeared in a magazine asking for quilters to contribute quilts so that kids that are going through a similar experience could also have a security blanket. The project took off and in March 2000 it arrived in the UK. So far, there has been more than 331,000 quilts and blankets donated.

Back with Elspeth, and she shows me samples of quilts that they accept. All the details of sizes are on their website, and a brief description is below. In general, they need neo-natal sizes (some areas only), cot/wheelchair size, and bunk/single/wheelchair size for children over three years. (They give to youngsters up to age 18 years.)

Elspeth has made connections with the local hospitals, which are regularly in contact to ask for any available quilts, or for more specific ones if they have a child in mind that needs a quilt particular to their age and likes, and usually Elspeth can find someone who will do that when asked, or she makes it herself.

Co-ordinators deliver to all Scottish hospitals with neo and children’s wards, usually with a specific amount each month, suitable for both genders and all ages.  Specific requests come from other sources such as Social Work, Health Visitors, Womens’ Aid & other Children’s charities.

There are co-ordinators all over Scotland, as there are more than 20 areas, who volunteer to organise the collection of quilts, and at the moment there are a few areas that are lacking someone who can pull it all together. Shetland, Caithness and Sutherland, the Western Isles, and North Argyll need a co-ordinator. If you are interested in becoming involved in the project, contact the new Scottish co-ordinator, Sandra Kinnoch, who is based in the Borders. Contact details below.

All the quilts that are collected are distributed in the local area, so that you know that your donation will be loved by someone close by. Each quilt has a Project Linus UK label sewn into it. Elspeth also includes a little note with each quilt telling them where the quilt has come from, and asking if they enjoy the gift and want to pass on their thanks, the instructions on how to do that are included.

Not all co-ordinators work the same way, but Elspeth has set up a Project Linus group in her area, where her regular contributors get together to talk about the latest news from the project, swap tips on where the best deals are on fabric and generally keep in touch with each other, and it’s a central point to hand over the quilts to Elspeth.

Elspeth says: “Our quilters don’t do it for the thanks, they do it for the children. And when they get a personal thank you, that just makes it all worthwhile.”

When I think of quilts I was imagining a thick, wadding-filled quilt. But that’s not really what the project needs. Although they welcome all types of quilts, including traditional three-layered ones, they encourage makers to try using just two layers only - fabric top (patchwork or whole cloth) with a polyester fleece backing, for three reasons. The kids prefer it, it washes and dries quickly and it is a cheaper option for makers.

Elspeth suggests that her volunteers in need of fabric head to the charity shops and pick up kids curtains which are excellent for repurposing.

Even though they do take blankets, these days the kids rather prefer the quilts. The knitted blankets have to be quite specific, there can’t be any holes, particularly for the babies etc. Although they do still accept them, as Elspeth knows that her ladies that knit spend a lot of time putting these blankets together and some hospitals and social workers are still happy to take them.

I ask Elspeth about weighted quilts which are particularly helpful to children who have trouble sleeping. She is reticent as they have had requests for them, and have supplied quite a few. She tells me that they are very expensive to make and are quite specific to the age of the child, as the quilt has to be a specific weight compared to the child’s weight. Therefore, they can’t be used for a long time if the child is still growing.

Some quilters are happy to make them if the material and wadding is provided by those requesting it.

Elspeth talks fondly of the volunteers that help her area and Scotland in general with the quilts and blankets. She mentions that it is something that people who are house bound can take part in, and it’s lovely to have a purpose and be needed when you are in that position.

We finish our chat as Elspeth shows me the latest two large bags of quilts that are due to be picked up by a local social worker, within a few days these quilts will be a gifted to children that need them and will treasure them forever.

For more details on the project and for specific sizes of quilts needed, see www.projectlinusuk.org.uk, where you can track down your nearest co-ordinator. The Scottish co-ordinator is Sandra Kinnoch, her email address is: brucekinnoch@hotmail.com, and her number is 01835 850324.


You can donate threads, cotton fabric, wadding, fleece, baby wool or office supplies, or unused postage stamps. Fabric donations are always most welcome too.

Suggested quilt sizes: neo-natal: square or rectangle with no side smaller than 20 inches square and max approx 30”.  (Sizes can vary been hospitals.)

Cot or wheelchair: 36 inches x 45 inches. Bunk/single bed/wheelchair (quilts only) 46 inches x 60 inches. Please, no buttons or embellishments.