After speaking with an ESOL tutor at Great Horton Village we were put in touch with Bradford College and Communityworks. Communityworks is a wonderful hub of activity in the Undercliffe area of Bradford. We were fortunate to be invited to run a Blue Plaque workshop with their Wednesday women’s group.
The first session was on the 19th June and ran from 1pm-2.30pm. June and I arrived around 12.30pm to set up and were greeted by Nabila who talked to us about the women’s group. Members started to arrive and Linda from Bradford College joined us. We handed out refreshments and said hello to everyone individually before beginning.
Once the group had arrived we introduced ourselves and the project everyone,with the great support from Nabila who kindly translated to the ESOL group who had also joined us for the session. We showed examples of different Blue Plaques and why they exist. We asked the group to think about a place, person or event, that they felt was worthy of acknowledgement. Many chose to honour a person in their life, whether that be a family member or friend. The first part of the session was hindered a little by the paperwork required by the college and ourselves, but everyone seemed to settle into it pretty quickly.
We asked everyone to select a square of blue fabric, a hoop and handed out information on how to create a back stitch, plain paper and pencils to plan with. A lot of the group already had previous and skilled embroidery experience and so began to work straight into the fabric, others chose to plan on paper before feeling confident to move onto the fabric.
It was amazing to see so many people (all 20 hoops I bought in advance of the workshop were snapped up very quickly!) working together. More advanced stitchers helped beginners and conversation of who or where they were creating their hoops for flowed throughout the room.
As everyone stitched away, June and I gave support to anyone who needed it. I helped ‘N’ who had never stitched before get started on their plaque, which was for their son and husband. They were unsure at first and kept asking me to do it for them, but after showing them what to do and encouraging them to try it, they quickly got the hang of it and made steady, neat progress. I moved around the room to help others and when I returned, ‘N’ had stitched a full letter with help from another group member.
Toward the end of the session the group were then served more refreshments and food. We asked individuals if they’d like to take their hoops home to continue, which some of them did with additional thread given to them, and others opted to leave them at CommunityWorks for the next session. The feedback we received from the group was positive, many saying they enjoyed having time to pick up a craft they no longer have time for at home, or learning a new skill.