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Sew Positive’s National Lottery funding for ‘Sewcialise and Upcycle’ workshops

Cambridge charities Sew Positive and Cambridge Women’s Resources Centre (CWRC) have been awarded £10,000 National Lottery funding to run a year-long programme of workshops and events to tackle climate change through fashion and textile recycling.

Melissa Santiago-Val, Sew Positive. Picture: Keith Heppell
Melissa Santiago-Val, Sew Positive. Picture: Keith Heppell

The programme includes teaching repairing and mending, upcycling and repurposing clothes. Workshops will range from using a sewing machine and making sustainable sanitary products to creative workshops on repurposing clothes and charity shop finds.

The first series of weekly two-hour afternoon courses starts on April 19 and lasts 12 weeks. Courses will be repeated in autumn and spring terms for new groups.

But the initiative will not end after each term because participants will be able to join a ‘Sewcialise and Upcycle’ group to continue their skills and bring communities together. The programme will culminate when the project ends on International Women’s Day on March 8, 2023 with a fashion show and ‘swish and swap’ event of items made during the programme.

Participants will track materials used in sessions and to record any items altered, upcycled, mended or embellished. This will enable organisers to calculate the impact of changing choices to reusable products, sewing our own, mending and upcycling. Participants will use ‘Impact journals’ which are embroidered with icons to keep track of the changes they have made.

Sew Positive from left, are Laura Kirby, Melissa Santiago-Val, Jo Reeves-Hairs and Margot Eagle. Picture: Keith Heppell
Sew Positive from left, are Laura Kirby, Melissa Santiago-Val, Jo Reeves-Hairs and Margot Eagle. Picture: Keith Heppell

Importantly, it will be possible to calculate the value of made items such as re-usable sanitary pads or underwear versus traditional single-use disposable sanitary products.

Melissa Santiago-Val, CEO of Sew Positive, said: “This is our first successful National Lottery bid and we are thrilled to be working with CWRC on such a significant climate change project.

“After COP26, there is an urgent need for everyone, including deprived communities, to feel empowered to make changes to textile waste that can impact climate change. With fashion production being responsible for 17-20 per cent of global water pollution and 80 per cent of discarded clothing ending up in landfill, this project is critically important for both people and the planet.”

The course, starting on April 19, is free for women experiencing discrimination, mental health issues, social isolation, working less than 16 hours a week and able to attend 80 per cent of the termly sessions.

There is a maximum of 10 people per course. Details here.

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