25 Jan A month ago today: what a group achieved on Christmas Day including a little bit of craftivism…
Name: Emma Corbett
Craft of choice: I’m not good with choices, I just come along to events and do what I’m told usually!
How did you get into craftivism?
I’m lucky enough to be the big sis of the founder of the Craftivist Collective!
I’m proud to say that I was there at the very first official meeting in the British library café where we stitched badges to get people talking about international women’s day. I have wobbled between Craptivist and Craftivist ever since, always remaining a very proud sister.
Tell us about your Craftivism project / event – what did you do, and how, and why?
The one day of the year where I truly ditch being a Craptivist and become a fully fledged Craftivist is on Christmas Day. This is because I spend Christmas Day volunteering at an AMAZING (yes it’s definitely worth shouting about!) event for 90 young people who have been in care, run by The Topé Project, a group of care experienced young people and a collaboration of professionals. If there’s any cause that will make me ‘up my game’ it is this one!
While many people spend months getting more and more excited in the lead up to Christmas, there are a number of young people who instead have a regular painful reminder that the “happy families” in all the adverts are a stark contrast to their difficult family situation. Without Topé Project, many would spend it alone. Children in care and care leavers, who have often had the most difficult and traumatic starts in life, are five times more likely to commit suicide than their peers. This project was started by friends of Topé, a 23-year-old care leaver who took his life,.
At the Topé Project, we provide a safe environment for people in a similar situation to come together, avoid isolation, eat loads, get great presents, have lots of laughs and be inspired for the year ahead. Of course, our event wouldn’t be the same without a bit of Craftivism.
What did we do?
This year, we did the “You’re a star” project, stitching stars with short messages and attaching tags with longer messages, to encourage each other to use our gifts and talents to make a positive difference in the world.
Some of the messages on the star tags:
- “Here’s to a new start in 2014.”
- “Words cannot express how much I feel today but I would like to say a big thanks to everyone. “
- “Out of little acorns grow big oak trees”
- “Thank you for giving a bit of hope on a terrible year. You are all amazing people. Thanks for making today a day to remember. x x x”
- “By far some of the best people I have met, making a real difference in the community and in people. Keep up the great work, thank you.”
- “I would like to show my gratitude to the Topé Project for making my Christmas for me!”
Relationships are vital for us all. Those of us with strong family ties often don’t realise how privileged we are to be able to turn to members of our family whenever we need them, emotionally or practically. Many care leavers don’t have that luxury, so building up their own support networks and maintaining positive relationships is even more important. We wanted to give young people the chance to strengthen these relationships by encouraging those in their support network to continue to shine like the stars they are in their lives.
Amidst all the games, music and food, it was important to us to provide a space for young people to sit, reflect and use their artistic talents to spread positivity. Craftivism is perfect for that. Young people were enabled to have time to think about the day and what message of positivity they wanted to pass to others while crafting.
We set up a Craftivist area at our venue, complete with mini Christmas trees to hang finished stars on. Well trained by my sis (of course!) we had a nice easy instruction leaflet so that people could find out what we were doing and why and get started themselves. There were also friendly Craftivists on hand to help.
In memory of Topé “Thank you for giving a bit of hope on a terrible year. You are all amazing people. Thanks for making today a day to remember. xxx”
What response have you got from your craftivism?
Many young people used the Craftivist activity as a way to say thank you to those of us that organised the project. At the end of the day, when all of the young people had gone home, and the volunteer team shared stories the day, we read out the messages they had left us and were encouraged and inspired by them. It certainly helped us realise how important it is to continue to make this event bigger and better and encourage more and more areas to do the same (a group in Manchester used our “how-to-guide” to set up their own Christmas for Care Leavers event this year, with Mary Anne Hobbs deejaying!).
What were you thinking about while you were stitching?
Obviously everyone will have been thinking different things. Craftivist activities allow people to think and craft rather than having to talk, so I can’t say exactly what others were thinking, but you can have some guesses from reading some of the messages on the images above. When I made my star, it gave me time to think about the importance of living in a world where we care for each other, where we give positive feedback and where everyone has someone to turn to and doesn’t have to face pain alone.
How do you think that Craftivism can change the world?
Craftivism helps positively change the crafter and the person who receives the gift or sees the craft, sometimes in a tiny way and sometimes significantly.
We can fall into a trap of thinking that it takes huge things to change the world and we can’t make much of a difference. Whenever I’m being Craftivist, I always remember the power of small acts of kindness and positivity.
Sometimes Craftivism challenges unjust structures and sometimes, like at the on Christmas Day at the Topé Project, it gives a practical and visual way for people to encourage others to be positive change-makers.
Sarah isn’t the only Corbett who’s a fan of a good quote! Let me end with one that reminds us of the power small gestures can have:
“Even if you never know it, each and every act of kindness effects someone. Your small gesture of kindness might be the one small thing that keeps another holding on.”
Let’s continue to change the world, one stitch at a time…
Interested in finding out more about how you can do your craftivism or one of our projects? Take a look at our book! Craftivist Collective is a social enterprise that relies on your support. If you enjoyed this blog post, please comment, share & visit our shop