Working with professional designer Nessa Doran O'Reilly of Furniture Magpies, 10 St Basils young people have been exploring creative techniques in a series of practical workshops at St Basils Highgate Birmingham project, to give new life to discarded objects.
The six week programme to transform unsuitable or damaged furniture ran from late May 2014 to early July was funded by Birmingham City Council and supported by St Basils and Birmingham, Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust and Care Leavers team. An event followed at Six Eight Kafé on 2nd July to exhibit the young people's creations and celebrate what they have achieved.
One young man who made a shabby chic coffee table out of an old pallet and a lamp said: “I’m pretty proud of it. I’ve already had offers from people wanting to buy it, but I’m like ‘ It’s mine man you know? I want it in my flat”
In his speech to the group he said: “I didn’t realise I had a knack for this so I just want to thank everybody here for helping me realise that”.
Another young man said: “I made the coat hooks from the back and legs of an old chair. I feel good about what I’ve done. I’ve looked forward to these classes every week so I’m wondering ‘what’s next’ now. I’ll miss it.”
One young woman said: “I wasn’t sure before the class that I would like it but I went on the first day and really enjoyed the fact it was all really relaxed, there was no pressure from the staff, I just got to have a go at making something and got to use tools and drills and stuff that my Dad would never let me touch in a million years! … I just loved the idea that we could turn something that was a bit rubbish that no one wanted into something great that would be useful too. I’ve got a sewing machine but no table to put it on so that’s what I made. If I had a flat I think I’d look at things differently now and not just chuck things out. The toolkit they gave us at the end was a nice touch. I’ll definitely be using mine.”
Deirdre Buckley, Learning and Engagement Manager at Craftspace said:
“Through Craftspace’s youth focused projects, we have listened to many young people. Discussions with vulnerable participants on our recent mental health project identified: a lack of control young people feel over their life, the extent of poverty and its impact on their mental health and the role of making processes in supporting well-being. In moving on from Care or supported accommodation to independent living young people can find themselves in basic accommodation with little resources to make their place feel like home. Despite support, without change to their physical environment, over time this can have a detrimental impact on physical and mental health, and lead to a lack of ambition and low self-esteem.”
“The impact of this project aims to give the young people who have recently left care and/or are homeless the basic skills and knowhow to transform their own living spaces… resulting in increased happiness, positive wellbeing, improved mental health and greater employability skills. These new skills, including the opportunity to gain an Arts Award accredited qualification, may also help them with employability and finding more stable or long term accommodation.”
One LSW worker commented: “The young people taking part in this project are really engaged, they are really interested and enthused by it. Often when we take young people to a second-hand furniture store where a lot of the furniture is often slightly damaged or old fashioned, made of dark woods or more traditional, the young people haven’t been able to see passed that, but these young people instantly had ideas as to how they could transform it such as sanding it down to the grain and repainting it. They were enthused by the challenge it offered!”