Heather Douglas, CAP’s TRASH Fashion Project Co-ordinator talks about Lockdown and CAP’s new annual programme

How are you coping during the Lockdown?

I’ve been taking one day at a time, keeping busy.  

I felt the need to help in some way, so I joined NI Scrubs in March, making scrubs, scrub bags and masks. Not only did I join Ni Scrubs,  I also started a little sewing group with some friends and neighbours.  As Trash Fashion coordinator, I was in a position to help some people in our community access sewing machines, fabric and sewing kits etc .

Having the support of Conor Shields, Community Arts Partnership’s Chief Executive, and being able to access these resources was invaluable.

I know for myself getting back to my roots of sewing helped keep me sane. A neighbour commented that without the sewing she doesn’t know how she would have coped as the sewing gave her time for herself and took her mind of what was going on. My friend said the sewing has really helped her confidence. She hadn’t been sewing in years due to illness and was hesitant to start up again. With a little encouragement she went from making scrub bags to making home furnishings and is delighted with herself.

Another wonderful thing which happened; I was asked if I could help another girl who really wanted to sew scrubs for the NHS. Her name was Iman and having come from Syria she didn’t aave much in the way of resources, I invited Iman to join our group and she was able to get some resources from us. I think we all learned a little bit about each other’s traditions. At the end of Ramadan, Iman very kindly shared some food with us.

How are you preparing for the new annual programme?

I have been speaking to group leaders to see how best I can address their needs.  I have also been brainstorming some new ideas to keep the project fresh and exciting

What challenges are there in conducting community arts classes during this difficult period?

Trying to keep groups engaged because I’m a very hands on person ,I enjoy the interaction and meeting my groups . The social distancing and working digitally are real challenges.  

What new skills are you working on in order to deliver the programme

Im developing my Social Media skills and I am learning teh skills to be able to film workshops..

Why does Community arts matter during this period?

 I think the arts generally, and community arts specifically, will be vital for the health and wellbeing of our community in the months ahead.

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New Belfast Community Arts Initiative trading as Community Arts Partnership is a registered charity (XR 36570) and a company limited by guarantee (Northern Ireland NI 37645).Registered with The Charity Commission as New Belfast Community Arts Initiative - NIC105169.