An unusual demand for woollen octopuses has prompted Sheffield Hospitals Charity to launch an appeal to knitters.

The charity wants kind local crafters to make dozens of the popular eight legged crocheted critters, which are in demand because specialists say they can provide comfort for patients living with dementia or receiving treatment for major trauma.

Their bright colours and textures provide comfort in an unfamiliar medical environment. But stocks are running low, meaning some departments are on a waiting list to receive the comforters.

Nigel Coulson, Matron for Geriatric and Stroke Medicine, said: “Being in a hospital environment can be disorientating for dementia patients. 

“Having something to hold and twiddle can have a calming effect, providing a welcome distraction for busy minds as fidgety fingers explore different colours and textures, helping to reduce anxiety.”

It’s not just those living with dementia that can benefit from the octopuses- staff in the Accident and Emergency department are finding them useful for trauma patients.

Roxana Whiteman, Staff Nurse in A&E, said: “Knitted octopuses work very well for patients needing emergency care. I recently used an octopus during the care of a young patient that needed treatment for life threatening injuries.

“He had it in his hand all through his care in Resuscitation Room and later took it with him when he was admitted.  It sparked conversations and took his mind off the severity of his injuries, allowing professionals to give him the treatment he needed to save his life."

If you are interested in making knitted octopuses, please email Catherine Kenny, at [email protected]. Alternatively send them, along with your contact details, or drop them off at Sheffield Hospitals Charity, Wycliffe House, Northern General Hospital, Sheffield, S5 7AT.