Textile Sessions Provide Fun and Healthy Food

Stitch Up CIC teaches and promotes knitting & textile crafts to people of all ages in the heart of communities to increase creativity, help improve well-being and reduce social isolation. Through Healthy Holidays: they were able to run a Summer School for young people interested in textiles. Jen Sharp, Stitch Up Director tells us more…

  • In a nutshell, could you tell us what your Leeds Community Foundation funded project involves?

The Healthy Holidays grant enabled us to run a summer school for young people for the second year running at our studio on Meanwood Road. We designed and delivered a programme of textile craft workshops for young people aged 8+ in the local area to attend throughout the summer holidays.

We worked with 8 different local textile artists to deliver an enriching selection of sessions where the young people not only had fun but learnt really valuable skills they could take away with them and make items for themsleves and their families. This included sewing, weaving, macrame, knitting, crochet, pom poms, tie-dye, embroidery and felting.

We also worked with fareshare and Café 164 to provide a free healthy lunch and snacks at every workshop to help young people who may be experiencing holiday hunger.

  • Why is this kind of support so vital, what’s the need and what might be the situation if the support you offer didn’t exist?

Our main studio is situated in the Little London and Woodhouse ward which is in the top 7% of most deprived areas in Leeds.  Many families in the area are struggling with poverty and disadvantage and often lacking access to opportunities with some struggling to feed their families especially in the school holidays.

Craft and creativity can often be seen as a luxury but the aim of our work is to make learning a craft accessible to all as it is a powerful tool to connect people, help people develop valuable life skills, increase confidence, support positive mental health and improve everyday wellbeing.

Providing these workshops for young people means they have the opportunity to explore their creativity in a safe, supportive and inspiring environment, meeting new friends and developing new skills while having access to healthy food.

  • Could you share a rewarding moment you’ve had so far? Is there a particular story you could share from a beneficiary you’ve helped?

We had some lovely feedback from a parent of two of the children that attended summer school this year: “I would like to thank you for the wonderful opportunities you have given the children to try out so many different textile crafts this summer! They had an absolute ball and pestered me to book them on to more and more sessions as the holidays went on. The staff were so patient and helpful, all the children were encouraged to be creative and their ideas were celebrated. “

  • What made you apply for a Foundation grant and what difference has the funding from the Foundation made?

I’ve always found Leeds Community Foundation to be very supportive and understanding of the work that social enterprises do in Leeds. Although we bring in some income through our paid for workshops and services which is invested back into the work we provide, funding is still vital for us to run some of our community projects especially with young people.