The Cosy Club
Colleen, a lady in her early eighties was referred to
Wesley Uniting Care in Adelaide because she was
very depressed. She had cared for her husband
through many years of illness, and now that he had
died she felt lonely and useless.
Barb, a community worker, visited her. Colleen told Barb that she had nothing much to
look forward to and, frankly, what was life about at this stage anyway.
As she was listening to Colleen’s story, Barb noticed six knitted tea cosies spread out on
the sideboard. These were not ordinary tea cosies, but ones with knitted butterflies, bees
and gardens on them. When Barb commented on how finely made they were, Colleen said
that she made them in case the scouts came to the door asking for a donation. She could
give them something to put on their trading table.
At about that time, the trendy T Bar opened in Adelaide. It was the first to celebrate tea in
a way that coffee lounges celebrated coffee. Barb asked Colleen if she could borrow a tea
cosy to show to the T Bar, as she thought they might be interested in selling such
wonderful creations. Colleen agreed. And the T Bar were delighted. They bought some
which sold really quickly. Could they have more please?
So Barb told Colleen that she had found a market for the tea cosies. ‘Well and good’ said
Colleen, ‘but I don’t really need the money. Is there some group in Uniting Care which
could use the money?’
Barb knew of a project with women who had an acquired brain injury. The women were
working together on a quilt. Each panel was made by an individual and represented her
story. The panels were nearly finished but they needed some money to complete the quilt.
So they were delighted to receive Colleen’s gift. And when she met the women, Colleen
was inspired by what they were doing. She greatly admired their courage in living with their
The tea cosies sold very well, so much so that Colleen could not keep up with the demand.
So Barb put out the word among some other older women, who were also experiencing
social isolation. They decided to gather once a month to swap patterns and knit.
Occasionally they also joined with the quilters.
They called themselves the ‘Cosy Club’ and became an active and committed group. They
brought food to share at the meetings, met socially and formed strong friendships. Then
they began to make other things and sold them to raise money for the quilters. Colleen
became a leader in the group.
When the quilt was completed the cosy club raised money to pay for a beautiful handmade
book about the creation of the quilt and telling the stories of those involved. A video was
The launch of the quilt was a great event, attended by dignitaries and the media. The
women who had made the quilt talked about their experience in creating it. It was a truly
inspiring evening. And the supper was amazing! Cakes of many colours were arranged in
patterns, just like a quilt. There was a great aura of celebration, achievement and pride….
Goose bump stuff! It was grand!
Later Colleen was invited, with Barb, to speak to a national conference in Sydney. When
telling her story, she told how she had gone from having nothing to do and feeling useless,
to not having enough hours in the day to accomplish all she wanted to do.
Barb could have offered a program, a service, but instead she noticed a talent and
facilitated its growth and use, and in so doing enabled a lonely old woman to become a
leader and speaker at a national conference, instead of a service recipient dependent on
her care workers for some change of scenery in the day.
(adapted by Beth Hancock from a story by Ali Ayliffe, Uniting Care Wesley Adelaide)