A couple of months ago now, I attended the first ever Stockton Soup which I wrote about on my blog. Stockton Soup is essentially an event where people come along, pay a suggested donation of £4 and listen to four pitches from people who want to do some good in the local community. You then get some soup and live music whilst you decide on who to vote for and depending on how many votes a project gets – they go home with a percentage of the money. Its amazing because everybody gets something, and the money raised is matched by another funding source and so for every £1 donated – £2 will go to fund a project in the local community.
I decided to attend as it sounded interesting and I had seen my friend Emilee promoting it on Instagram. I went that night and was blown away by how much people were doing for the local community and I decided that I wanted to be a part of it.
The real fire was lit under me when I was introduced to a man who asked me what I do. I told him I was a stay at home mum and he replied with “is that all”. I was pretty taken back and in that moment decided that I was going to make my own change.
I quickly decided on setting up a crafts club for a number of reasons. Firstly – crafts are fun! They can be done by children of most ages and generally are enjoyed by all. They can be easily adapted and themes changed to fit different seasons and various people’s needs. Secondly – i’m a big believer that art is good for the soul and is a positive hobby. Thirdly – arts and crafts are a good platform for self expression and is a great way to build confidence within people as in art – nothing is wrong and what you choose to create is entirely up to you. I like to teach the children that nothing is “wrong” and that if they’re happy with what they’re making – then it’s perfect.
I got really lucky with my club. I mentioned my idea to my lovely friend Emilee who just happened to know somebody who was wanting to set up exactly what I wanted – but didn’t quite have the creative skills but she had a venue, children who needed a club and most of all she had the biggest amount of passion and love and just wanted to be there for these kids.
So I met Jenna through Emilee at Stockton Soup and explained what I wanted to do, and that was exactly the same as the ideas that Jenna had been having for a club at St Lukes in Thornaby where her church “The Vine Project” had taken over and was trying to put on sessions for the local kids in the area. Straight away me and Jenna just clicked, but it’s hard not to with her. She is such a fantastic, enthusiastic role model for the kids we work with and she puts her everything into being there for them – it’s so humbling to see. We knew what we wanted to achieve ( a safe space for children to come and learn crafts and also build confidence/self esteem) and within one meeting we had it all set up and had plans to start the following week.
It’s now April and apart from Christmas break, we’ve been doing crafts club every week and honestly there’s been so much change. Those who were quiet and timid now have a voice and those who were loud and didn’t listen now sit patiently waiting, ready to quietly get on with the sessions.
I feel by working closely with these children that we are able to develop their skills and also make an impact on their lives. I love doing this group and hope to set more up in the area including a group for older children teaching not only crafts but life skills too!
I’m now looking to expand my little club and will be starting training with a local organisation called A WAY OUT who support at risk teens, vulnerable families and women in the area. I’m hopefully going to be working with the youth division to run craft sessions and I’m super excited about it all. I’m also open to running other groups or one off drop in sessions so if you know of somewhere that needs help – feel free to email!
I’m so glad I have these groups to focus on. Being a stay at home mum I often felt like my skills were being wasted at home and this way I get to help others whilst also getting to do something which I love. It also gives me a break from being “mum” and although I’m spending my free time working with other children, it feels refreshing to be doing something different. It feels great to feel like you might be doing something worthwhile and giving the kids something to look forwards to. Hopefully I will expand – i’ll keep you posted!
P.s, here are some of our crafts!
We made a tree with our hand prints as leaves!
Pipe cleaner tree decorations.
Handmade, painted baubles.
Noah’s arc and the children’s animals.
And my fave – our Christmas wreath! All the kids decorated a pinecone and I put them together as a wreath with the message that we might all be different, but we can all come together to make something beautiful.