Community · parenting · personal

Making friends as mummy.

Hi all.

I’m not sure if it’s the same for everybody, but when I found out I was pregnant I had a lot of expectations and scenarios playing in my head which I thought would happen. I imagined being inundated with people wanting to spend time with me and the baby, I imagined going for coffees with groups of “yummy mummy’s” and our wee ones and I imagined weekly play-dates.

Honestly? It hasn’t quite worked out as I expected.

Starting from announcing my pregnancy, it almost felt like my friends dropped like flies. I stopped getting invited out to places, people stopped coming round and I started to feel so lonely. I ended up with SPD so was pretty trapped in the house and isolated.

In reality, it’s nobodies fault. People don’t want to feel like they’re imposing and as life moves on, people tend to drift apart.

For the first few months of Eleanors life I was too scared to really mix with other mums and tended to avoid playgroups as when I had tried, everybody seemed to know each other and I felt like a complete outsider. I was determined to make friends, but needed to do it on my terms.

Last year I started a crafts club within the church I now attend and I met a lovely lady named Paula who has fast become a great friend of mine. I had wanted to set up my own baby group as a way to get Eleanor to mix with other kids whilst doing something I love (music, dancing and crafts) and when I spoke to Paula she was also wanting to set up a similar group and so we put our heads together and Wriggle & Rhyme was born. We’ve been going for a few months now and seem to be going from strength to strength. I think my favourite part of it is helping people who are first timers feel comfortable enough to join in with our conversation and build friendships. This is one way I’ve found friends, but there are many other ways you can find new friends too, such as –

  • Join an online group. I was added into the “Mama Mates” group and honestly haven’t looked back. These women have become my village and I know I can always get help. I started somebody just reading posts but soon became engaging online and adding people. I then answered a post asking for volunteers and found myself invited to different events. When I put myself out there and actually accepted an invite, I found myself connecting with a wonderful, down to earth bunch of women whom I never thought I would of met. Our friendships then grew from me actually putting myself out there and suggesting meet ups and since then there’s been parties, ice cream dates, hang outs and just companionship. I know that at any moment I can pop into my group chat and one of my pals will be there to help me and that’s such an amazing thing.
  • Try a new hobby. I’ve made friends from going to Aqua Zumba/swimming and after a while of seeing the same faces we have just naturally started chatting. I’m also starting a new adults crafts club to bring people together.
  • Host/go to a playdate. I’ve hosted a playdate where I invited people I’ve met on parenting groups to my home and we’ve had a great time despite never meeting before. I just looked to invite children of a similar age to my little girl and Eleanor has always had a great time.
  • Don’t be afraid to say hi. You never know where a simple hello will take you.
  • Let your children make the introductions. If your children are playing together, try to strike up a conversation. I find it easy to ask about their child or to introduce my child to theirs.
  • Put yourself out there. I know it’s scary, I know it’s nerve racking but you don’t know where a simple hello will lead! A silly comment such as “I fancy a dinner” might lead to arranging a meet up and if you’re as lucky as me, you could end up finding a great group of friends from it.

Making friends is hard. There’s no real “etiquette” and as a whole, us British are painfully awkward. However if this is how you feel, then you’re probably not the only one who feels like this! I always make a real effort with new people who come to my groups to help them feel comfortable and a lot of them say “I don’t go to many groups because I’m scared and I feel like my child misses out” so generally, most people are just as scared as you are. Sit next to a stranger, have a tea together and see where the conversation takes you.

My last year has been enhanced by the wonderful women I’ve met both as friends and through my baby group who have grown to also be good friends. I bit the bullet and put myself out there despite being terrified and for me it has payed off massively.

I’m always looking for more friends so if you’re in the Teesside area and want to come to our events – get in touch!

Hannah xx

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personal · review

The Nuthatch Stockton – FabFatMama Reviews

Hi all!

This post is almost a continuation of my last post which you can find here!

So if you read my last post, you’ll of known we’d just been for some dinner at Hope & Union before going to see one of my besties Charlotte sing over at The Nuthatch. The Nuthatch is a small cocktail bar which started in Middlesbrough but now has a branch in Stockton too. I’ve wanted to go for quite a long time and I was very excited to actually book a table and go. I booked a table online and requested to be sat near my 3 friends and their husbands and we ended up actually being seated together which was great.

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The Nuthatch is situated in Wasps Nest Yard which can be accessed through a very colourful archway via Silver Street in Stockton-On-Tees – almost blink and you miss it. I loved the feeling of almost stepping into somewhere unknown and hidden, almost like you weren’t in Stockton at all any more.

We met 2 of our friends on the way and all arrived together. We’d luckily been seated in a table of eight which meant we were all together. I took my seat in-front of the open folding doors and took in my surroundings.

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The interior is tiny, but beautiful. It’s a mix of exposed brick, mixed shabby chic chairs, thick green foliage and small handmade looking tables. I was particularly in love with the bar area which was full of hanging cocktail glasses and copper equipment.

After taking our seats we were given two menus – one was the original menu and one was the special’s menu. They had a handful of cocktails on offer at just £5. I selected my first cocktail, one I was super excited to taste and it didn’t let me down.

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My first cocktail was Blueberry Amaretto Sour – Blueberries, Disaronno, Lemon Juice, Egg White. 

I’ve had a Blueberry Amaretto Sour at new year when I made them with my cousin and loved them then and so I was super excited to try their version and honestly, I wasn’t let down. I always think it tastes like fruity Doctor Pepper. This one was so smooth and velvety I literally couldn’t stop drinking it. The small glass was deceptive too as it felt like the drink never ended – not that I was complaining.

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Next up I tried The Nuthatch – Edinburgh Raspberry, Lemon, Pink Grapefruit, Framboise Liqueur, Cranberry, Rosemary.

This is the Nuthatch’ signature cocktail and is served in “that” bird glass. This was on the £5 menu and I really thought it was great value for money. I love a fruity cocktail and this one was just to my liking. I particularly liked the citrus flavours mixed with the hit of burnt rosemary. This cocktail doesn’t just tingle your taste buds but also gets your other senses going resulting in a well rounded cocktail experience.

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My final cocktail was the Passionfruit Martini – Absolut Vanilla, Passionfruit Liqueur, Apple Juice, Passionfruit Puree, Vanilla Syrup.

Being a huge fan of a “Pornstar Martini”, I had to try one of these. I got hooked on them thanks to my cousin Carley and was excited to see how they served theirs. Again, these were on the £5 menu which was a great deal. I really enjoyed this cocktail, it was smooth and sweet with a little bit of tang. It slipped down maybe a little bit TOO easily as I just couldn’t stop drinking it. I know the classic version comes with a shot of Prosecco but I honestly didn’t miss it.

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Of course the real reason I was there was to see my friend Charlotte perform. She was performing at their Songbird night which is held on a Thursday and features one local artist per week. It was lovely to have her perform in such a beautiful relaxed setting whilst we sipped away on our cocktails. The atmosphere was just what i’m into and I really enjoyed the evening.

One thing I was quite impressed with was the large gin selection, the “build your own gin” menu and the amount of different craft/flavoured beers they sell. They even have a “mocktail” menu so there is literally something for everybody.

In all I had a lovely night, and I’ll definitely be heading back. The Nuthatch is calm and relaxing, has really great drinks and is manned by some really lovely and knowledgeable staff. Me and my friend Steph had a great conversation with the guys behind the bar and they definitely made us feel welcome.

The only question is, what to try next? And who’s coming for a drink?

Hannah x

fashion · food · personal · review

Hope & Union. FabFatMama Reviews!

Hi All!

So I feel like since I’ve been hanging out with my gorgeous new gal pals I’ve been out loads. Don’t get me wrong, I still used to go out but not for nearly as interesting places as I’ve been going recently!

One of these new places I’ve been to is Hope & Union in Stockton and is somewhere I’ve been eyeing up for quite a while ever since I found them on Instagram. They hold gin nights which is how I originally came to follow them and they also have live music. Once I showed my partner that they did yorkshire pudding wraps we vowed that one Sunday, we would go.

This has not happened.

Fast forward a few weeks/months and my friend Charlotte was planning a gig in another local establishment, a cocktail bar called The Nuthatch and me and Adam decided to meet up with the rest of the “squad” and our significant others. My mum kindly offered to have Eleanor for the night and as she came quite early we thought we would make the most of if and grab a bite to eat out before the gig. Knowing that the Hope & Union was nearby we finally had an excuse to pop in and decided that’s where we would head.

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Now, some of you who have followed me for a long time will know I used to be a huge wig enthusiast. In fact, at one point I had over 70 wigs in my collection as I used to write a separate wig reviewing blog. I sold off/gave away most of my wigs after having Eleanor as I didn’t have the space to keep them and they weren’t very practical with a new-born. I did however keep a handful of my favourite wigs for special occasions and on a whim I decided to pull my all time favourite out of retirement for a night out. This was mostly because I fancied changing my look up a bit but also partly because I’d been swimming earlier in the day and my hair just was not playing ball.

Outfit wise I slipped on a velvet dress I got for Christmas which, didn’t fit me quite how I wanted it to anymore (it’s gotten too big as I’ve lost weight) and teamed it with my trusty flat-forms and my devore kimono.

When we got to Hope & Union I had to laugh – it was literally a stones throw from The Nuthatch. We were worrying it would take us a while to find them both or to walk from one to the other but unless they were physically touching – they couldn’t be closer.

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We walked inside and I immediately loved the atmosphere and the decor. I’m massively into the industrial/DIY look which is quite a key design feature in the venue. There’s handmade tables with pipes and wood, scaffolding board bar shelves, an amazing see-through barrel store/”cellar” and cages containing beers/items to buy. This is mixed with old Chesterfield sofas, low tables built up from crates and booth seating. I was impressed.

Although I was quite impressed at the decor, what impressed me more was the HUGE selection of gins for sale. I couldn’t choose one and so asked the bar man for something citrus based and he recommended Williams Seville Orange with classic tonic and lemon/lime garnish. I accepted and was so glad I went with his suggestion as this was so delicious. The orange bursts through and is truly a beautiful drink.

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We found a table and started looking at the menu. The menu is really small and there’s also some daily specials. We were quite impressed to see that the meat comes from a butchers literally 5 minutes walk away from the bar and is a butcher we’ve actually used ourselves who sells really quality meats. I thought about getting some of the small plates which reminded me almost of a british style tapas with things like pork pie and mushy peas, black pudding bon bons and runny in the middle scotch eggs but I ultimately decided on the Dirty Dawg. The Dirty Dawg (as pictured above) is a Cumberland sausage wrapped in bacon and brushed with mustard and smothered in cheese on top of butter rolled cornbread and served with rustic skin on fries and homemade slaw.

I loved this dish. I couldn’t finish it all and had a little help from Adam but it was amazing. The cornbread completely melted in your mouth and the quality of the meat was so obvious. I’m not really one for chips but these steak cut skin on chips were delicious and cooked quite honestly to perfection. A real stand out part of the meal though had to be the slaw. It was just a great, homemade delicious slaw and it cut through the richness of the cheese so well.

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As much as I enjoyed mine, Adam enjoyed his even more. He went for the beer and beef burger which was topped with bacon jam and he also upgraded his chips to loaded chips which meant they were topped with cheese and thick chunks of ham. I tasted his and instantly regretted not upgrading mine.

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Adam washed his down with this grapefruit beer which is about 2. something percent and was recommended as a great beer for those who are driving. Adam thought it was really tasty, almost like a fruity shandy. In fact, he liked it so much that when we went to the next venue he nipped back in for another one and drank it outside.

We both really enjoyed our time in the Hope & Union. The food and drinks were all delicious and it was nice to be in somewhere with my kind of music playing (yes, they even play The Smiths!!!!!). I like to support independent local businesses and I can most definitely see me heading back here for yorkshire pudding wraps, British tapas and copious amounts of gin!

Hannah x

baby · parenting · personal · plus size

Whats the t?

Hi all!

Once again, life has gotten in the way and has stopped me from blogging as much as I would like to.

The culprit this time? My laptop decided to stop working – but only the t key! This made typing incredibly awkward as I had to copy and paste every single time I wanted to use the t key. Very annoying.

Now I finally have a new laptop after there was an accident which ended up in the screen getting completely smashed – making it completely useless. Finally I can get back to blogging and hopefully keep up with it. I do love writing, but I think I second guess myself quite a lot and really it’s gone on the back burner since I’ve had a child. I think I get a sense of guilt if I’m just sitting behind a laptop and not really engaging with my child, but there’s ways I guess I can do both as she’s a very independent baby who is just happy to play!

Well, I keep saying baby but she’s almost 2 – how did that happen?!

I figured with this post I’d give you a little insight into where I am with my life at the moment. I’m in the weight loss management program and I’ve lost around a stone and a half so far, and 3 in total since last year. Currently going through all the steps to eventually have weight loss surgery which isn’t something I’ve decided on lightly. I hope that people understand I have no way been pressured into WLS by anybody and I don’t dislike the way that I look at all. I’m happy and confident as a plus sized woman and will genuinely sad to be smaller – however I am doing this for my health and so that in the future I can have another child. I certainly couldn’t do another pregnancy like the last one and I really want another child in a few years. I also want some quality of life. I have sleep apnea and honestly I’m just so sick of being tired – which is another reason I’ve stopped blogging as much.

This summer I’ve been super busy helping out at lunch club at church. Lunch club is a thing my church runs where we invite the local kids into the church for a hot meal over the holidays to take some of the extra financial burden off families in the area. It’s also a great way to see all the kids and to do things like crafts with them and we’ve even had great fun with mini discos.

I also arranged and ran a fundraising summer fayre within the church which raised £500 for our youth services. We were all so happy with this and we plan to raise another around Christmas.

Finally, I’ve been working with AWAYOUT to do crafts and outreach with the girls in the blossom project which I love. I finished my sponsored swim for them – all 1416 laps of the pool swam and really enjoyed my time doing it.

Another big difference in my life is that for the past few months I’ve made a really amazing group of friends and we have been hanging out and having play dates as well as baby free nights. It’s so nice to be around other people who “get” you and who are on your wavelength. I almost feel like they’ve saved me a little bit and their support is really just so wonderful. I was slipping into pretty bad depression again but honestly this group of women have helped me so much – I don’t know where I’d be without them. So a massive thank you and shout-out to Charlotte, Nikki, Sam, Steph & all our beautiful squad babies, I truly love you all.

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Now i’ve been able to upload all my pics to my new laptop I’ve got a few local reviews and pieces to post, and I’m on holiday at the end of this month so watch out for that! We’re off to (hopefully) sunny Ibiza with a toddler – wish us luck!

Just wanted to say a huge thank you to those who stick with me, comment on my posts, ask how I am on IG etc. It means a lot to know that people care. I know my posts are more and more sporadic but I really will make an effort to keep people update!

Thanks for reading,

Hannah x

 

fashion · music · plus size

Be Quiet – Dress Loud! Teesside music meets fat fashion.

Hi all!

When I was a lot younger I was a massive fan of the local teesside music scene and enjoyed going out to gigs and shows when possible. For me it died down a lot and I stopped going to as many local shows as bands I followed tended to settle down, move away or just fizzle out.

One band I’ve followed now since my late teen years is Teesside’s finest funky electro synth tribe – Be Quiet! Shout Loud. I’ve always enjoyed them for their incredibly catchy, disco influenced toe tappers and I’ve made a firm friendship with their bassist who is lovingly known as “Big Dave”.

BQSL have been on a break lately whilst they broke in new Guitarist Jamie Donnelly. This hasn’t been the only lineup change however as keyboardist Chris has now upgraded to the keytar, which I thought was pretty cool when I saw them live. After a 7 month hiatus, I heard that the newly structured band were coming back to support another local band at their final show! I figured it would not be a show to miss and made sure I was going to be free.

I asked my friend Claire to come along with me as she is massively into the local music scene and is even a fantastic artist herself! She actually sang at Eleanor’s Christening as she is a vintage style singer and she’s just amazing. Claire came to mine for a few pre-drinks (ended up drinking gin in the car whilst Adam dropped us off as we’re so classy) and I’m so glad I did as I needed a little bit of liquid confidence with my outfit!

As ever, I tried numerous outfits on and eventually decided to go for something a bit more “edgy” as I was going to a gig.

I ended up in a mesh top from Boohoo (which actually comes with a dress), a skirt from New Look which I bought at Christmas (but is still available here in straight sizes – sadly sold out in plus in the black but there’s a few in red here).

The bra is from a two pack I bought online at Simply Be and I really liked how the lace looked against the mesh. It gave it a little “something” rather than being just plain.

On my feet I wore these super comfy flatforms I found on ASOS. I thought I best boost my height so I could see better at the gig! I’m not that great at wearing heels, or most shoes in general for long periods of time but these are so comfy I actually managed to stand in them all night with only a few rests between bands in the bar.

We arrived at The Georgian Theatre which has recently been renovated and I was majorly impressed with the new glass frontage and the general decor in the bar. It has a really cool industrial look and has long tables with benches as well as some smaller intimate tables. The first band Serinette were already partway through their set when we arrived and I wish we’d of gotten there sooner as I really enjoyed them.

Next up was the band I’d gone to see, BQSL. I made sure I was right up front as frontman Jake Radio always puts on a show with his endless dance moves.

BQSL came onto the stage to a great reception from the audience and began their set which was a mix of some of their old classics, new songs and even a pretty amazing cover of “You Spin Me Right Round” which was unexpected but well welcomed.

Also keen to put on a good show was new guitarist Jamie who was full of energy and really looked like he was having a great time.

One thing I really enjoyed with the retro synth notes coming from Chris on the “Keytar”. I’ve never actually seen one in person and thought it was actually really interesting and it gave a different dynamic than a keyboard. I was enjoying seeing all the band dancing and actually enjoying making music, and to me BQSL have always been a band I’ve enjoyed visually.

He’s Dave, a man after my own heart on bass. In case you didn’t know I actually played bass for most of my teenage years and loved it. Sadly that fizzled out and I never really got the chance to play when I started working etc. I have been thinking lately how much I would love to be in a band making music again but I can’t see that happening anytime soon with the other things I have going on in my life!

  

The show seemed to be over in five minutes as every song flowed effortlessly with a bit of chat and banter from Jake in between. Me and Claire took it in turns to hit the bar and soon we were merry on cherry rum and tiki rum which we didn’t realise was 70% proof – oops!

We of course took some time out between bands to take some selfies!

We bobbed in and out for the last band The Purnells and also spent some time in the bar before calling it a night after all the acts. We both thoroughly enjoyed the evening but knowing I was on mum duty the next day I didn’t want to make it too late of a night – too sensible for my own good!

I really enjoyed getting out and hearing some live music. I really want to get out into the Teesside music scene more often as there’s some serious talent around here and shows seem to be picking up and there is an actual scene again which if I’m honest, seemed to lag for a few years. My friend Claire always has her ear to the ground about great shows and so I have no doubt that we will be heading out again soon…so I best get finding something to wear!

BQSL are continuing their comeback with a gig at Scarborough Tattoo Show  so make sure to check them out if you’re heading up there, although they’re also working on something secret so keep an eye out on their Facebook.

Hannah x

baby · Community · fashion · parenting · plus size

Why I Want To Lose Weight.

 Hi all.

This post has been a difficult one for me to write for a number of reasons. First and foremost I don’t want to upset/offend or trigger anybody with weight loss chat. Secondly, I am losing weight because I personally need to and believe that what everybody else does with their bodies is their business. Thirdly, I don’t want anybody to think that I’m now against fat bodies. I will never be against fat bodies. If I could be well and still the size I am – I would be happy with that. Unfortunately, I’m not healthy and this means I need to lose weight.

When I was pregnant with Eleanor, I was diagnosed with Sleep Apnea and it was tracked that I stop breathing around 100 times an hour when I’m asleep which is super scary. It means that I never ever feel well rested and I drop off asleep through the day for a few minutes which isn’t great. It’s quite embarrassing when I drop off and I hate it. The only way to tackle it is to use a c-pap machine which I just can’t get the hang of or lose weight…so I’m choosing the latter.

I’ve battled with my weight for quite a long time now. I’ve gone through every stage of hating my body to the point of hiding away and self harming, to parading my beautiful body along a stage at a plus size beauty pageant – whilst wearing a bikini! I’m at a happy place with my body and how I look, but not with how it functions and if I’m going to have a better quality of life then I really need to change.

For so long I’ve championed plus sized bodies and the amazing things they can do that defy the bullshit that doctors try to push on you. I’ve seen so many beautiful plus sized mothers bring their babies into the world when they were told they’d never be able to even conceive as a plus sized woman – I myself was one of these women. I was told at every step how high risk I was and truly bullied by the NHS. When Eleanor came there wasn’t a single thing about her that wasn’t perfect, and she’s growing to be an intelligent, bright and confident little girl; something they told me I wouldn’t be able to “cope with” and would have to have extra help with. I’ve had none and need none.

I’ve seen plus sized bodies climbing mountains and doing yoga, running marathons and being “healthier” than their slimmer counterparts.

Unfortunately for me – that not the case. My body is different from others because I have hypermobile joints which means they are unstable and move too much and even dislocate. This causes me extreme pain and so anything I can do to take pressure off them and improve my quality of life – I want to be able to go on long walks with my family and not worry if there’s somewhere to sit on the way around. I’m sick of staying in the house whilst Adam takes Eleanor out alone because I’m sore or because I need some rest as I feel isolated away from them and almost feel at times that they have a much better bond together.

The big thing I need to lose weight for is Sleep Apnea which is currently giving me no quality of life. I stop breathing in my sleep which means I never feel well rested and often fall asleep during the daytime – mostly when doing quiet tasks such as writing blog posts. I find it so hard to get the focus to write and finish a blog post, it takes me days/weeks to write just a snippet without nodding off which is why I’ve not been blogging as much.

With sleep apnea you get something called a CPAP (continuous positive airway machine) to wear at night which is a face mask which pumps out air into your nose and throat. Unfortunately, I find it hard to breathe through my nose and so I can’t use the machine without finding it very hard to breathe. It also triggered the PTSD which I was left with after my c-section that didn’t go to plan.. I’m hoping with weight loss that this gradually gets better.

It’s not just health why I want to lose weight. I’m sick of paying the “plus size tax” on clothes. I want to be able to go to shops like Primark and buy a pair of shorts for £3, not £30. I want to be able to see in my hand what I’m buying and not wonder what the sizing is going to be like on my online order. I want to have choices like everybody else and not have to stick to the same 2-3 shops I always do.

I’m going on holiday in September and in some ways I’m dreading it. I’m hoping that I fit in the seat okay and don’t need loads of extenders! I’m hoping I can fit down the water slides and have the energy to run around after Eleanor and dance with her at the kids disco.

Eleanor is my number one priority. I don’t want her to get bullied in school cause I’m the “fat mam” at the school gates out of breath and I don’t want her to be ashamed of me. I want Eleanor to grow up in a world that accepts people for who they are and doesn’t judge people for their appearance and I want her to grow up knowing that she is beautiful and perfect – but I also want her to be able to live her life without any complications like mine and I don’t want her to feel as unhappy I do at times. This world is a cruel place and people are really nasty (kids in particular who have been brought up to be fatphobic).

I really don’t want to cause any upset or offence to the plus size community because I fully intend to still be a member of the plus size community and body positivity for all – I just need to do this for my own health so that my life is actually worth living again and so that I can enjoy my family and be around to watch them grow.

Hannah x

Uncategorized

Crafts For Confidence!

Hi All!

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.

Enter Jenna.

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!

Hannah x

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.