A KEEN knitter from Hope is helping people suffering with dementia by collecting unwanted dolls to be used to provide comfort to them.

It is thought that having a doll to interact with can improve a person’s communication, which can produce improvements in communication with other people, while reminding others of a time when they had a baby of their own.

For Violet Bell, 66, her involvement with helping people with dementia began when she started to knit hand muffs for Rhyl-based organisation Woollies for the World.

Violet said: "People with dementia can become anxious, especially while in hospital or in nursing homes, which can result in them twiddling their fingers.

"It was found that the knitted hand muffs made dementia patients feel less anxious, as it gave their hands something to do as the muffs have buttons and bows attached inside them."

With some of the knitted hand muffs being given to Wrexham Maelor, Violet became aware of another method for providing comfort to those with dementia - doll therapy - and this gave her an idea to start an appeal for people to donate their unwanted dolls.

She added: "After trawling around so many different charity shops, it became clear that baby dolls are not as available as what you would think, so I decided to start the appeal.

"It is thought that for some people with dementia, holding a doll reminds them of a time when they had babies of their own and it gives them enjoyment."

After she made the appeal on social media, two Wrexham-based businesses - E. Clarke Funeral Directors on Pentre Felin and Abode Above in Central Arcade - kindly offered to act as drop off points for donations.

She said: "I'm so grateful to both businesses for their help and for all the generous donations we've had so far.

"The dolls we receive are dressed in hand knitted clothes because many older dementia patients are from that generation that knitted clothes for their children.

"All the wool I use is donated too, so it's not just dolls that we need."

Once the dolls are dressed, they are ready to be donated to Wrexham Maelor, where they are then given to patients, but as Violet explains, they are never taken back.

She added: "This is why there is a constant need for donations, because the stock will always need to be replenished, due to the fact they are only ever given to one person because of the risk of spreading infection.

"I've also been giving them to nursing homes and have also had a request from a Dementia group in Chirk.

"I am really grateful to everyone who has donated their unwanted dolls so far, but would like to make it clear, that we are always looking for more."

A spokesperson for Abode Above in Wrexham said they are delighted to be able to support the campaign and have even dressed the window of the shop to advertise the project.

They said: "As knowledge of the project, as well as the effectiveness of baby dolls, grows, so too does demand.

"I'm asking you to help, please, by donating baby dolls and double knitting wool."