This weekend I will be going to…

…well, possibly Walsall, since my old schoolfriend Rachel is getting married. (The ‘possibly’ is because she only invited me five days ago. Over Facebook. But that’s probably a whole other blog.) But I will also definitely be going to the Exodus Festival, a celebration of Manchester’s refugee communities – I’d never heard about this before but it sounds amazing. And not just because it’s free, and not just because there will be an Eritrean coffee ceremony. (Anything that involves a formal celebration of, or involving, coffee is good, yes?) 

Also this weekend, I shall be at the Stitch & Creative Crafts Show in the G-Mex/Manchester Central. This is an event showcasing all the sorts of creative things I wish I was good at but am patently not – sewing, cardmaking and so forth – but I will be there with Manchester Oxfam, as this weekend they are stitching together their massive blanket. This is a creative campaign to highlight the global issue of maternal mortality – the sad and simple truth that, while giving birth safely is something women in the West can largely take for granted, worldwide 1400 women die every day in pregnancy or childbirth.

Oxfam are really good at putting a twist on the traditional petition (I particularly enjoyed helping out with the Tanabata campaign earlier this year – we had a cardboard tree for people to hang their ‘wishes’ on at a folk event in the Northern Quarter, which was also where I first encountered The Bee’s Niece, and for that opportunity alone I and my folky friends are eternally grateful) and I think this one is a cleverly bittersweet way of bringing home the contrasts between the uncertainty, danger and – of course – poverty facing so many new mothers in the developing world, and the warm fuzzy armfuls of gifts brought to mothers in our own stellar NHS maternity units. Blankets are of course among the traditional new-baby presents, and as such when my mom was pregnant with my sister Annie, an aunt gave all of us older sisters knitting sets and told us we had a few months to learn. That was over sixteen years ago and I am yet to learn to knit, so sewing the petition-squares together will be my first contribution to a very valuable campaign. I was asked to bring friends but frankly don’t think I have any who want to spend their afternoon sewing…any takers?

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