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Keep Calm and Craft

Sale West Community Urban Trust share what they have been up to during the pandemic.

Sale West Community Urban Trust is a charity set up to improve the quality of life of children and families in Sale West and the surrounding area.  
During the current covid-19 crisis, some local people in the area have been facing challenges only exacerbated by the current climate. These have included:
  • mental health problems – lack of self-esteem, stress, anxiety, depression
  • isolation and family breakdown
  • long term unemployment
  • struggling with parenting
  • financial difficulties
  • social isolation
 One of the ways SWCUT supports families is through ROC mentoring, where trained and checked volunteer mentors assist families to achieve life goals over the course of a year or so.  These goals may relate to making friends, being active, connecting socially, building self-esteem, managing stress, exercise, a healthy diet, accessing education/training, finding employment, paying off bills, budgeting, easier parenting, cooking skills.

At the start of 2020 SWCUT created a series of craft workshops where families undertaking mentoring and others could meet to connect and learn new skills. Craft workshops are proven to improve mental health by building self-confidence, creating community connection thereby reducing isolation and creating a sense of self-worth. 
Since lockdown began, craft workshops have been delivered over Zoom with craft packs being delivered to peoples’ doors. Numbers have grown each week and by week 9 of lockdown, 146 craft packs had been delivered to 22 doorsteps with c. 36 people (including children) now taking part in craft activities each week. This is no mean feat as craft packs have to be prepared 72 hours in advance so that they are safe for participants to use. The craft activities have included: button craft, rainbows, Easter craft with salt dough and card making, patchwork quilting, pompom creatures, drawing patterns, making bread, making foil peacocks and jewellery making. In addition, people in the craft group and others are knitting colourful squares to be made into a blanket once lockdown is over – everyone will come together and celebrate!

One of the participants said, “There’s a solidarity and support through being part of the Keep Calm and Craft group…. I have found a way to compartmentalise the challenges that life throws at me, by taking time out to complete a craft that has been lovingly left on my doorstep…..Nothing matches the escapism found when zooming with the group - out of it I produce something tangible, colourful and expressive.”
One of the mentors said, “Participating in the Keep Calm and Craft Group during lockdown has enabled me to continue to build positive relationships during these tricky times. I have been able to use my sewing skills purposefully in making face masks, which I have given to group members who wanted them. I have made masks for neighbours and friends who have donated £60 in total towards the craft group. I have also been making patchwork squares for our joint corona quilt along with other group members. It is a privilege to be involved in this innovative project.”

On the Keep Calm and Craft WhatsApp group, one lady said, “I had a stroke in 2018 that left me weak on my right side….I’m still in a wheelchair for now and thank you everyone it’s helping me problem solve doing craft. When I think I can’t do something, I’m finding ways around it so it’s challenging me and helping me to learn new ways. It’ll be nice to meet everyone once the lockdown is over and I enjoy baking so I don’t mind bringing cakes!”
SWCUT are working closely with the Sale Community Hub to identify people who may also benefit from the craft club. 
They have also have promoted the Hub as an opportunity for St Mary’s and Sale West church members to volunteer during this time, and have been able to refer families to the Hub for extra support when they’ve been struggling e.g. where school shopping vouchers have not yet come through and they need assistance with food.
In addition,  invaluable connections have been made through the Hub with other partners. Everything feels joined-up; it’s really excellent and very noticeable that the individuals in our community matter.
If you’d like to see more of what the craft group has been doing or think someone would be interested in joining, please do visit the Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/KEEP-CALM-and-CRAFT-104174421210044/
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