Witnessing a need to provide opportunity for creative collaboration within the community, Stitches in Time was born. It’s a community led visual arts and textiles organisation established in Tower Hamlets in 1993. They work within schools and community locations throughout London and the UK, touching the lives of thousands of people by creating opportunities and partnerships.
Stitches in time is special because it provides a forum that allows diverse groups to work together through programmes that raise levels of achievement, confidence levels, skills based learning and community cohesion. They do all of this whilst raising awareness of important issues such as healthy living, women’s empowerment and collaborations across generations.
Katie Adkins, Director of Enterprise and Outreach, said: “We devise creative arts based projects with and for the community, both through using our existing links and new outreach. We work within different social groups including schools, community centres, youth clubs, elders groups and women’s groups to develop visual and textile arts projects that bring communities together, contain embedded learning, and provide confidential support. Between 2014 and 2016, 4,753 people were involved in one of our projects.”
FabricWorks is the enterprise arm of the charity. It generates opportunities for local women to learn a high standard of textile skills, providing free weekly drop-in sewing and pattern-cutting classes for over 30 women per year. It’s great because the FabricWorks production team works to commission for both commercial and public sector clients - providing further support for the progression of women from these classes into working within the production team. Many of the women helped are long-term unemployed and facing multiple disadvantages, such as domestic abuse, housing problems. They may be survivors of trafficking or in financial difficulty.
Katie continued: “In order to continue to provide the high level of training we want to, to ever increasing numbers, we need some machinery to support the training of women that attend our classes. We need one industrial sewing machinery and an industrial overlocker, to ensure the women are getting industry-standard training during our classes.”
The funding received through The Co-operative Bank’s Customer Donation Fund has helped the group to buy more of the machinery they need to reach as many people as possible with these life changing opportunities.