Behind the Seams
Behind the Seams is a dynamic and inclusive sewing program that offers social engagement and useful skills for a diverse group of approximately fourteen people.
The group has been gathering for four years, facilitated by Linda who began volunteering at the centre after experiencing social isolation and a loss of confidence due to ill health - “Lucy was encouraging and saw my potential.”
Linda had little sewing experience yet, utilizing local community and volunteer networks, she organises the repair and maintenance of the sewing machines and arranges donations of fabrics and materials. She also has an intuitive, empathetic and nurturing nature that allows participants to feel safe and supported.
Assisting Linda are two volunteers Sally and Sue. Sally has been volunteering for six months and brings her prior experience in teaching sewing within adult education to the group. She finds the role extremely rewarding as participants learn and achieve and she values the opportunity to give back to the community. Sue, a new volunteer seeking community connections, also has sewing experience and in a short space of time has seen the positive benefits of the program for participants.
Participants in the program have various barriers to social engagement including grief and loss, mental health issues, physical disabilities and neuro diversity.
Linda will initially set simple projects for new participants to assess their abilities and limitations. For example a participant currently attending with her carer lives with significant neurodiversity and mobility issues however Linda has assisted her to achieve positive outcomes through patient encouragement. She sets simple step by step tasks, often requiring repeated instruction. These conversations also improve the participant’s social and verbal skills. As a consequence, the participant has increased confidence and continues to learn new skills and complete projects. Another participant living with neuro diversity, recently moved to Australia with her family and is living in temporary accommodation. She joined the program to broaden her social connections and, having gained new skills, is already considering challenging projects. She has now secured part time work but will continue in the program.
Eighteen months ago, the Craft program, facilitated by Janita, combined with Behind the Seams. Janita has been volunteering for two years and enjoys being more active and part of the community. Some participants in the Craft program also have a range of health issues including arthritis and multiple sclerosis and Janita has adapted projects to suit them. Combining the two programs has meant an increased sharing of skills between participants and more socialising opportunities.
Both programs meet every Wednesday afternoon from 1-3pm in meeting rooms 1&2 combined. The wall between the room and adjacent entrance foyer is opened creating an active and vibrant atmosphere for the participants and passers-by.
“It’s the little things that matter – such as finding a quiet corner for a service dog where the public and other participants won’t disturb him while his human gets on with their projects. Or finding worthwhile feel-good projects for the participants – including the community such as the playgroup kids, fundraising opportunities or even creating animal pouches and blankets for animal rescue purposes,” – Linda.
**Use real names for reporting purposes.
Sue does not wish to have her real name used publicly.
Sally is ok with real name used publicly.
Do not have anything in my notes re public privacy for Linda and Janita.