This is one of the great things about Craft Aid International, it's not just about the crafts - it's also about time spent chatting, connecting and sharing.
So perhaps this is a slightly odd title for a charity blog based around craft... There is obviously no Craft Aid International without the craft! However, I was reminded again today that the work of CAI is about so much more than teaching differently-able people new craft skills. At our Starbeck session this afternoon, we had our usual tea break, and as we sat around munching on some very delicious chocolate and banana cake, we chatted about jewellery, barbecues, and holidays. We also talked about some of the hard things we'd been going through: loss and illness and discrimination. It's beautiful to see that CAI's craft sessions are not only a time to have some craft fun, but they are also a safe space to share the joys and struggles of life. I found a facebook post from nearly a year ago, which sums this up perfectly:
And it's not just during our tea-breaks that we get the chance to have a chat, there's also plenty of time to catch up on life as we get on with the crafts. Another key part of our workshops is learning to work together as a team. Today some of us worked together to make cards, using a letterpress technique, whilst some of us dyed t-shirts, and others worked on cutting shapes out of marbled paper. Below are some of the beautiful results!
Natasha originally came to our craft sessions as a participant (see her last blog post about the craft sessions), but she now volunteers with us too and does a brilliant job. Here she writes about her experience and all the skills she’s learnt:
“I now not only help out at craft class, but also help at different talks, and craft stalls, where we get the opportunity to show the world the wonderful work done by Craft Aid International. We get to meet people and spread the word about CAI’s work. We write down what is sold, so that we know what products the consumer likes to buy,
I love the craft sessions too, and have now learned to always go with an open mind. I never think I know how to make everything, because I’m always amazed by all the new and exciting crafts we learn every week. So far I have learnt how to do tie-dying, how to make jewellery, felt flower accessories and paper-beads.
Some of my most enjoyable times have been working closely with the other disabled participants, giving them one to one help and support when needed. Or just, being there for them. All the smiles, laughter and joy warms my heart. The pride that you both feel when you see the finished item is priceless. I would love to bottle it all, and give it as a present to the families of the participants. I would love them to see the participants’ work. I think it would be really rewarding for them, in every way imaginable.”
Susie Hart MBE