How to Help Provide Healing for UK Children through Worry Puppets & Monsters

Are you looking for a way your knitting can help a child suffering through a traumatic experience? You may be the perfect candidate to knit a worry puppet or monster for Knit-for-Nowt


Have you ever heard of a worry puppet or worry monster?

I confess that until recently, I had not heard of such a thing. But it turns out that such an object can be immensely beneficial to a child recovering from trauma with the help of a therapist.

The following comes from the Knit-for-Nowt website:

“Children tell the puppets far more than they tell [the therapist] alone. Why is this?

The answer is simple: puppets give safe distance. No child wants to see a therapist who fixates on her problems, nor feel there’s something wrong with herself. In my playroom, it’s the puppet who has the problem. And to a much greater extent than the child. That’s the secret.

If a child is here for anxiety, puppet Miranda has hilarious, unreasonable terrors. The boy here for anger meets puppet Pedro, who mentions unmentionable aggressive thoughts … the very thoughts children harbour and sometimes enact. The boy can hardly believe Pedro feels the same way.

And before he knows it, we are talking. Other puppets join us, supportive “voices of reason.” Four-way conversations ensue between the troubled puppet, the helper puppet, the child… [and the therapist].

Puppets help bring the child’s problem comfortably into the room. They often speak for the child, making her feel not so alone and not so BAD.”

In essence, a worry puppet (or monster) is a tool for children’s therapy. Because the children use them for role play, to tell their “worries” to, they are called “worry puppets.” (Or “monsters,” when they look less like human beings and more like a creature you might encounter on Sesame Street.)

So now that you know a little about the worry puppet/monster, I would like to introduce you to a UK organization that collects just such items: Knit-for-Nowt.

For more knitting charities serving children in other parts of the world, click here!

Knit-for-Nowt: Supplying Therapists, Social Workers, and More with Therapeutic Tools

2015 saw the beginning of Knit-for-Nowt, and their original charitable purpose was to supply handknitted clothing and blankets to needy folks around East Yorkshire. But after a few years, they discovered an urgent need for a much different type of assistance.

They found that children suffering from both physical and psychological help needed a little something extra to work towards their healing. And they found that therapists did not have room in their budgets for items like puppets. Knit-for-Nowt received more and more requests for such items, and finally they decided to focus solely on receiving and distributing worry puppets and monsters.

Today, Knit-for-Nowt delivers handmade puppets and monsters to therapists, counselors, social workers, and many others who work with children all over the UK.

Worry Monsters
Worry Monsters
Photo: Valerie Holmes

At this time, Knit-for-Nowt has been bombarded with requests for worry monsters and puppets. They are in desperate need of knitters, crocheters, and sewists who are willing to make them!

Valerie Holmes, a dedicated Knit-for-Nowt assistant who helps prepare puppets and monsters for their final destination, calls the work she does “the most satisfying retirement job.”

She also shared with me this food for thought: “You can imagine what effect lockdown has had on children who come from abusive homes and those who already suffered from anxiety. The increase in requests has been phenomenal, so any encouragement you give to UK knitters to join in will be so gratefully received.”

Worry Puppets
Worry Puppets
Photo: Valerie Holmes

Valerie sent me all the photos you see provided here. You can see the wide variety of puppets and monsters, all of which are gratefully used by so many children’s workers!

She says about contributors to Knit-for-Nowt: “Some of these have heart rending stories of their own, and for these the knitting is not just a therapy, but a passion and a healing.”

What an important point to remember, especially during these difficult times when we charity knitters often have our own stresses and struggles.

How You Can Help

As stated above, Knit-for-Nowt is in desperate need of worry monsters and puppets. If these are the types of projects you enjoy, they would dearly love your skill and creativity!

If you are interested in creating hand or finger puppets, you can click here for guidelines and patterns. Be sure you read the guidelines! This will ensure that your projects will be usable by therapists and other children’s workers.

If it’s worry monsters you’re interested in, you’ll find patterns and guidelines here. Again, be sure to read the guidelines before you get started!

While you’re certainly welcome to use your own patterns, or creatively alter the ones found on the Knit-for-Nowt website, make sure that they still fit the guidelines. As long as you stick to the guidelines, Knit-for-Nowt will gladly accept anything you create!

When you have items ready to send, you can fill out the Contact page to let Knit-for-Nowt know what you’ve made. They will respond and let you know where you can send your donation.

The Knit-for-Nowt phone number is also on this page, if you would prefer calling to email.

(Note that they do not place the information about posting anywhere on the website, for security reasons — you must contact Knit-for-Nowt first.)

During difficult times, it tends to be children who suffer the most. Knit-for-Nowt’s worry puppets and monsters are important tools to help healing… but to do so, they need the help of faithful knitters and crocheters to provide these tools. Won’t you consider joining them?

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  1. I love knitting and crochet, and sewing! please share your pattern for the puppets so I can knitting…

  2. I would like to knit a worry doll looking like a granny. If you have a suitable pattern or something I can adapt. I will knit some for you.

  3. Yes! I want to knit a special puppet or monsterdoll.
    I know from experiencing a traumatic childhood how dolls/puppets are a great comfort🤗