Voluntary Sector Focus: Mary Thomas, Founder Padendere Community Sewing Group - Wolverhampton Voluntary Sector Council

by James Clarke
1 month ago
163 Views

Tell us about your organisation, how you started and what you do?

The Padendere Community Sewing Group (Padendere means ‘On the Nest’) was set up to be a safe space where migrants and refugees can support each other through sewing, knitting, craft work and exchanging knowledge and skills for people to build connections and tackle social isolation through creativity. I was once an immigrant and struggled on my own for several years until opportunities came. I attained a Master of Arts with Merit in Design and Applied Arts, focusing on Fashion and Fabric in 2017. I wanted to pay back the community that helped me so much. I have creative skills to share, and people are interested to learn.

We received some funding and set up a project to support women and girls in Wolverhampton from many different cultural backgrounds. We aimed to tackle isolation, mental health challenges, and depression, which is prevalent among the migrant and refugee communities in Wolverhampton but also among women from all backgrounds. We aimed to use connectivity and creativity as a way of building community resilience. Whilst doing our creative activities, we would share stories, talk about problems that we are facing and give and receive emotional support. As the pandemic unfolded, we moved our sessions online and became a core part of the women’s weekly routine.

What has been your greatest achievement?

Our greatest achievement was to get funding and because the pandemic came and we went into lockdown, we were able to learn how to use zoom. We were able to teach through zoom without training. People sewed masks for their families, which they learnt through this group. We fought depression, and loneliness and brought smiles to their faces.

What is your experience of support received from WVSC?

WVSC has helped me with advice on how to apply for funding and information.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Wolverhampton?

It brings the community together and makes asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants feel welcome and part of the community. Working together helps individuals to stop stereotyping.  The people of Wolverhampton become friendlier and it’s a better place to be.

What are some of the challenges you face and how can WVSC help to support your organisation in the future?

Some of the challenges facing us are that there is no continuation of the group because of a lack of funding. Some of the machines we bought in 2019 are broken or need servicing; the place where we run the group needs heating; volunteers need funds for transport – the list is endless if we are to run our group to a successful result. WVSC can help us with how we can apply for funding and become successful.

Where can we find out more?

Mary Thomas: makatho@live.com

Would you like to be featured in our Voluntary Sector Focus? Contact Sharon Nanan-Sen on snanan-sen@wolverhamptonvsc.org.uk for more info!