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FAD & Praxis: ‘Stitching Stories’

Posted by on Jun 28, 2012 in FAD Workshops | No Comments

For the past four weeks FAD have been running sessions on Wednesday evenings with a group called ‘Brighter Futures’ at Praxis in Bethnal Green; a centre for people displaced.

Stretching fabric on the embroidery frame

One of the finished embroidery panels for a man’s jacket

The Praxis centre  works with young asylum seekers and refugees, supporting them to campaign to improve the situation of displaced people in the UK.

Overall it’s been an inspiring and eye opening experience for the young NELE volunteers, many of whom have never met asylum seekers or refugees before, or even had any knowledge of what it means.

It’s also been a real team effort FAD volunteers, FAD staff and young people of all nationalities coming together to create two garments to showcase at Kensington Palace later this year.

FAD: A Personal Viewpoint

“As Communications Manager at FAD, I have been actively involved in the making side of things. It’s amazing how something as simple as a needle and thread can bring people of so many different backgrounds and cultures together. Over the weeks it has become apparent that for everyone involved, embroidery is really important. For many displaced people from countries such as Afghanistan, Iran and Palestine it symbolises a pride in their cultural heritage and reminder of family bonds and rituals.

Last week, along with one of our young NELE volunteers, Tom*, I sat down for the first time with a young man taking part in the project. Ben* came to this country in 2007 and is still without a status. Over the stretched fabric of an embroidery frame we spoke about what life is really like for him in the UK and what he left behind to be here.

It was an enlightening and at times saddening conversation, with all three of us learning something about the other’s life and culture. For young Hackney volunteer Tom who is close in age as Ben, there was a realisation for the first time about what being an asylum seeker in London really means and the challenges young people like Ben face on a daily basis.

When FAD began this project, the intention was to highlight embroidery as an important and rich part of British heritage, and to encourage young people to learn about and share knowledge of how to stitch. Working with the ‘Brighter Futures’ group at Praxis, we have realised embroidery also has the potential to to bring peolpe together and bridge social gaps. It’s a chance for people from all backgrounds to sit down over an embroidery frame, share their stories and work towards creating something incredible.”

You can see the Praxis ‘Work in Progress’ embroideries at ‘The New Voices Festival’ in Bethnal Green on Saturday 30th June. They will be made into two garments by volunteers and displayed alongside a day of music, theatre and festivities.

For more information on the event please visit www.newvoicesfestival.org.uk 

Written by Fran Lawton, FAD Project & Communications Manager. * Please note that names have been changed to protect the identities of those involved.