International charity support for Sunderland care home

03 February 2023 News

Archers Court, part of Orchard Care Homes, has received support from Soroptimist International, Northern England division, for a third year. The care home in Farringdon, Sunderland, has welcomed the charities’ fundraising initiatives over the years – in particular donations of its bespoke ‘Twiddle Blankets’ which help to relieve anxiety and regulate emotions for people with dementia at the home. The care home received another colourful bundle of blankets last week which have already been put to good use!

After a relative of one of the charity workers was cared for at Orchard’s Archers Court, the charity formed a close bond with the home and began to regularly knit ‘Twiddle Blankets’ and muffs, as they could see how much the colourful blankets - embellished with buttons, lace and ribbons - benefitted those with dementia.

Those living with the illness often need something to occupy their hands at times of stress or anxiety to help promote calmness. Over the years, the charity has knitted in excess of 50 blankets, in addition to donating funds through raffles, fetes and other initiatives.

Sharon Easterbrook-Smith, Home Manager at Orchard’s Archers Court, says: “We are so grateful to Soroptimists for their ongoing support. The blankets and muffs are invaluable resources for our people with dementia. Since launching our Reconnect Community at Archers Court for people with specific dementia needs, we have found that the blankets greatly help with self-regulation. Fiddling with the buttons and beads is a great distraction during times of anxiety. They look amazing and are so popular with our people. We were delighted to receive another bundle last week and have already distributed these to the people within our home.”

Sorpoptimists, founded in 1921 to predominantly support the lives of women and girls internationally, also help organisations at a community level, such as Archers Court. The charity’s North England division, based in Sunderland, is made up of 85 members, headed by Suzanne Brown, President for the third year.

Suzanne comments: “Helping Archers Court is such an important community initiative for us. As well as the work we do for women and children in the community,  we have a special affinity with the home, as Sharon, the homes’ manager there has been a guest speaker for us; talking passionately about her role in care and particularly how she helps people with dementia. She is a true inspiration and we wanted to give something back to the home in support. The Twiddle Blankets are fantastic and we have some keen knitters who give up their time to produce these wonderful items.”

If you are a keen knitter, or have any spare wool for donation, the Soroptimists are always on the lookout for more. Please contact the charity if you can help by emailing

Quality of care and invigorating best practice is at the forefront of Orchard Care Homes’ strategy. The group’s impressive record demonstrates the highest quality of care it provides its residents, with 91% of its homes now rated ‘Good’.