We currently run a creative textiles project at Share for people with learning disabilities and autism. Through this project, people create sustainable fashion and household items, with materials sourced from the overstock of shops and fabric recycling centres. Ideas for designs are drawn from the contemporary arts, as participants learn about different styles and genres, which inspire their own exciting designs for clothing and eco-shopping bags among other things. Some of those taking part have limited motor skills and dexterity, and we use iPads to help them to create their own original patterns. Sewing machine and weaving skills are taught, including making jewellery from recycled materials. Students also develop communication skills, confidence, self-advocacy and independence.
Funding from The National Lottery 'Awards for All' will enable us to continue and grow this project. We want to reach more disabled people, increase the project hours, and take it out into the community to showcase people’s talents. This will include displaying work at other community events and possibly running a fashion event. In this way we will break down barriers between people with learning disabilities and autism and the wider community. We want to increase awareness and appreciation of the talents of disabled people and create more opportunities for encounters that get people talking to each other and more comfortable interacting, therefore helping to reduce prejudice and stereotypes. Participants will go on trips to galleries where they will make sketches and take photos that will help them develop designs.
We have already built up a good relationship with a local charity shop that donates overstock to the project, and through this next phase we will build up more relationships, so that clothing, fabric and materials that would otherwise we discarded are utilised and upcycled. Underpinning the project is a focus on helping the environment by reusing textiles and clothing rather than buying new.