Patients recovering from serious mental illnesses have been making blankets to keep cats and dogs warm.

They have knitted five brightly-coloured blankets as part of their therapy. These have now been donated to the RSPCA centre at Woodside, Leicester.

Pam Sanders, one of Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust’s meaningful activities co-ordinators, started the initiative. The “knit and natter” sessions were designed to engage inpatients on Kirby ward, which looks after women over-65 who have mental illnesses such as depression and schizophrenia.

The ward is based within the Bennion Centre, on the Glenfield Hospital site.

Pam said: “It’s therapeutic. It is a great way to get them comfortable and to build rapport with them and get to know them.

“It is very, very popular with patients. We have carried it on to the point where we are doing something rather than knitting for knitting’s sake, so I decided we would send the blankets to the RSPCA.

“The reaction I got from patients is it is very calming. They don’t feel so anxious when they are knitting.

“Some of the patients are knitting scarfs, shawls and hats.”

The knitting is one of a number of creative outlets open to the patients. Other activities include gardening, creating gift cards, hand and nail care, and music.

Natalie Martin, communications officer at RSPCA Woodside/Leicester, said: “Thank you for thinking of us Kirby Ward staff and patients! Our dogs and cats are very impressed with your knitting skills! They have come in extremely handy with this freezing weather we have been experiencing.”