All sewn up?

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colleague and customer at Craft Cafe

Metropolitan’s community Craft Café in Nottingham – part of the Ties in Notts project run by our support worker Kim Errington – needs your vote in the Big Lottery Fund ‘People’s Projects’ competition to win up to £50k.

Shannon Wragg takes two buses to get to the Craft Café on the other side of Nottingham.

The hour-long journey to Metropolitan’s Hillview Community Centre is one she’s happy to make to attend the free weekly sewing sessions that have changed her life.

“It gives me a purpose,” explains the woman with anxiety and depression, who cried with both pride and panic when she made it to the first workshop. “It used to be the four walls, my husband and my children – that’s all changed. The Craft Café has given me new skills, new confidence and new friends. My family can’t believe the difference in me.”

The Craft Café – part of the Ties in Notts project – is counting on all their votes in May’s televised final of the Big Lottery Fund People’s Projects. It’s one of five projects in the running to win up to £50k to help improve the lives of the communities they serve.

“Everything we do is about making social, creative, inclusive spaces – free of judgement or pressure, where everyone is welcome to come, learn and have fun in a supportive environment,” explains fashion post-graduate Kim Errington, who set up the social enterprise five years ago. “Please support us so we can continue to do this amazing work.”

Kim ran her first creative workshops while working at a women’s rehabilitation centre. “I saw how beneficial they could be,” she reflects.

She went on to secure start-up support for her business from the Prince’s Trust and worked closely with Metropolitan to deliver free painting, photography, screen printing and sewing workshops for residents and the wider community. Metropolitan funds some of the courses and accommodates many of them in its community centres.

Wednesday mornings at Hillview, in the St Ann’s area of Nottingham, are as much about making friends as making cushion covers.

“Everyone is the same here,” says Kim, who is also a part-time support worker at a Metropolitan women’s refuge. “It doesn’t matter if people are on benefits or lonely or don’t speak much English; at the Craft Café, they all chat to each other and share tips. It’s beautiful to see them building new friendships.”

She believes that too little is done to entice adults from the house. “Unless there is spare money for college courses or people have outgoing personalities, they won’t try something new,” she reasons. “Yet it’s so valuable to give people the time to be creative, to be silly, to relax and to learn.”

Pat Craft CafeEach ten-week Craft Café series begins with an introduction to the sewing machines, before participants make a reversible tote bag to practise their straight lines. Then they’re let loose. Curtains, dresses, crocheted slippers – anything goes. One man comes to shorten his trousers, while Pat Jenkins has just finished quilting an impressive nine panels featuring African wildlife. She’s planning to send it to David Attenborough.

“I’ve always been into dressmaking,” says Pat. “I wanted to try quilting but kept getting stuck. I’m retired and evening classes would take too much from my pension, so when I saw the free Craft Café advertised, I was delighted. Kim knows so much and has so much patience.”

And as her quilting improved, so did her social life. “You go into town and don’t talk to anyone,” adds Pat, who is also helping to make 1,000 palliative bags for overnight visitors at the local hospital. “The Craft Café has a nice

atmosphere and a diverse mix of people. It gets me out the house and it’s a stone’s throw from home. It’s something I really look forward to.”

It’s a similar story for Margaret O’Mara, who has been crocheting all her adult life. She has a crochet diploma, a

Craft Council teaching certificate and many years of professional teaching experience, but she always learns something new at the Craft Café.

“I get ideas, advice on colour combinations and I love helping others. It’s that or sit at home twiddling my thumbs. Retirement was great for two weeks, until I realised I hadn’t spoken to a soul.”

Shannon Wragg, meanwhile, is always “dead excited” to show her family what she’s created. She’s currently working on a dress for her eight year-old daughter, who has picked out the fabric and pattern.

But she’s most proud of the leopard-print dress she made for her teenager. “I didn’t have a pattern,” she explains.

Shannon Craft Cafe

“I drew round her on a piece of wallpaper and added bits on. I snipped and chopped and sewed. She loves it and even joins me at the Craft Café sometimes to see how it’s done.”

It’s been a life-changer for Shannon. “I get out the house, have a chat, feel supported and learn something new,” she says. “The place is a godsend.”





Vote for Ties in Notts now at to help secure the Craft Café’s future for another year. Votes close on Monday, 30 April.