Community support

Funding level: £1,001 to £5,000

Description

We would like to develop our textile programme that supports refugee women and men who have recently arrived in the UK.

Based in Hertfordshire, the programme, which launched earlier this year, was designed to help support newly arrived refugees by offering sewing lessons and skills development in a friendly, non-threatening space which also doubles as a sociable place to reduce isolation and improve English language skills – the two main barriers to refugee integration.

To ensure the maximum environmental and social impact of our project we approached local restaurants and chefs with the option of ordering bespoke hand-made items crafted by our refugee sewers, creating a real sense of satisfaction and purpose for our makers and a chance for the hospitality business to buy genuinely ethical and individual products, as well as telling our story.

The idea has proved popular as a trial and we’d now like to expand it, widening the network and number of refugees we can support. We aim to do this by bringing in some formal expertise in the form of a properly trained sewing tutor, ideally some translation services and creating a more structured and supportive programme for our sewers, including helping them to navigate the benefits system and feel empowered to move into paid work. We also need to buy more sewing machines (allowing us to increase our community reach) and materials including tape measures, scissors, pattern paper, cotton reels and buttons as well more fabrics enabling us to create and trial samples and to demonstrate the capabilities of the sewing programme members.

We feel the project has the potential not just to improve community relations and reduce social isolation but to help wider relations by contributing to positive stories about refugee contributions and skills. So far it has been run entirely on a voluntary basis but we would like to pay those who are helping to lead the project and secure its future in terms of location (currently a hired church hall but would ideally be a more permanent space).

Benefits for project participants:

- Practical skills
- General professional support
- Purposeful activity and use of craft skills
- Social interaction and improved mental health
- Culturally sensitive work
- Embedded ESOL and language practice
- Opportunities for training and work progression
- Opportunities for revenue
- Moving toward professional empowerment and independence

Aerende

Location: St Albans

It is a truly constructive project designed to help refugees find purpose with practical and transferable skills. As well as supporting refugees as they start to build new lives, it also helps with building stories of positive impact and contributions of migrant communities.
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