Figen Murray first took up knitting seriously to help her cope with hearing loss. At the time, she was working as a psychotherapist, and decided to practice what she preached and turned to creativity to help lift her mood. Little did she know then that just a few years later her knitting would help her cope with the dreadful loss of her son, Martyn Hett, who was one of the 22 victims of the Manchester Arena attack in 2017.
By the time of the attack, Figen had taken to knitting bears which she sold online and which she used to help people with various mental health issues. In May 2017, her life was (in her words) “turned upside down”, and she left psychotherapy work to look at why people are compelled to commit acts of terrorism and to try to prevent it happening so that other families wouldn’t have to experience what happened to hers.
Figen’s bears became ‘Peace Bears’ and not only have they given her a constructive way of coping with her own grief, but she has used them to reach out to the victims of other attacks too. Figen now visits schools to speak about terrorism and the dangers of radicalisation as well as the good and positivity there is in the world in a bid to “break the cycle of hate”. In December 2021, Figen graduated with a Masters Degree in Counter Terrorism from the University of Central Lancashire and was recognised for her work in counter terrorism when she was awarded an OBE in this year’s New Year’s Honours List.
It was utter pleasure to speak to Figen for Making Stitches and I’m incredibly grateful for her time and openness in speaking to me for the podcast.
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Making Stitches Podcast is supported by the Making Stitches Shop which offers Making Stitches Podcast merchandise for sale as well as Up the Garden Path crochet patterns created by me & illustrated by Emma Jackson.