A community group made up of ten volunteers from Wirral have got together to help each other whilst helping the environment – one stitch at a time.
The Friends of Bebington Central Library set up a club last year to overcome loneliness and isolation through sewing – by repairing clothes, reprocessing old materials into new products and discouraging the use of cheap and flimsy materials.
The Bebington Civic Centre-based organisation have been delivering the Sew Friendly Project using money received from a waste grant to help inspire re-use and recycling across Wirral. They were awarded just under £2000 from the Merseyside Recycling & Waste Authority (MRWA) and Veolia Community Fund 2018/19, which was set up to help support waste prevention, re-use and recycling projects.
Friends of Bebington Central Library used the funding to purchase new sewing machines, an overlocker machine and other sewing equipment such as cuttings mats, roller cutters, roller blades, quilter’s rulers, machine needles and threads.
New items created from old materials include patchwork quilts, cushions, handbags, shopping bags and mittens. All of the items are sold locally with any profit put back into the project.
In the twelve months since it was established, the group have held 39 sewing workshops, saved over half a tonne of material from going to waste and contributed 420 voluntary hours in encouraging textiles recycling and re-use amongst the local community.
Chair of the Friends of Bebington Library, Di Oliver, said: “The sewing project came about to improve the mental and physical health of participants and we believe ours to be the first such project in the region. It really shows the effectiveness of working together towards a goal in a friendly, supportive and caring environment to improve self-worth, esteem and mental wellbeing.”
The group has been working with Sefton charity Emmaus Merseyside to use leather from old sofas which the Friends of Bebington have transformed into bags and holdalls. In return for the leather, the Friends of Bebington have made quilt covers for Emmaus companions*.
As well as the sewing and recycling element, the project also saw participants take part in film, book and writing clubs.
Di Oliver continued: “In my experience people who learn to create in a group become less isolated and find they make friendships that are lasting. Their creativity helps them to overcome personal issues.”
Chairperson of MRWA, Councillor Tony Concepcion, said: “This is a wonderful project which has had a real impact on local people. We’ve had bigger Community Fund projects before, but pound for pound this has been one of the best we’ve been involved with. It’s been really well run, re-used materials that otherwise might have gone to waste, and has engaged with the small but enthusiastic group of participants on all sorts of levels from recycling and re-use to self-worth and well-being.
“We wish them all the best for the future and thank them for the impact they’ve made.”
Note to editors
– Image caption –
MRWA_SEW1_2019: The Friends of Bebington Library (sat middle fourth from right Di Oliver)
MRWA_SEW2_2019: sewing session with Friends of Bebington Library
– *Emmaus supports people (“companions”) who have experienced homelessness by providing them with a home and meaningful work in a community setting.
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