I was one of two co-leaders who started an offline craft group in a church. When Covid hit the craft group collapsed I concentrated on completing the book. Once the book was done the idea of the activity packs was born. Then it was a case of how do you make that into a proper business. To do that there needed to be more products but what?
That was when I lay on my bed praying and thinking. It then dawned on me that Everyone CAN Craft is a movement-based business. A what? A business that is designed to make an impact rather than to make money. The main aim was to make crafts as inclusive as possible. We had already done that with the offline craft group.
What we can learn from history?
I did some research to find out what questions people were asking that included the word disabled. What I found shocked me. One of the questions was should disabled people be allowed to live. The naked truth was that we were doing crafts with people who other people were wondering thought it could be wrong that they had been allowed to live.
These were people I had got to know and even love so it shocked me. I never even thought about that until I did some research on what questions people were asking that included the word disabled. Maybe it should not have done as many disabled people lost their lives during the Holocaust. Believe it or not, in the mid 20th-century disabled people were sent to the gas chambers along with other so-called undesirables.
How do you reverse such a terrible situation?
Rather than allowing people to die, we want to include everyone in crafting activities. I know that sounds a bit simplistic but that would be one way of building a fair society where the needs of the weak are met without weakening them further. What are the needs of the weak? Surely they need to socialise like other people which is one of the big reasons why people go to a craft group.
The other thing that struck me when I looked at the list of questions people were asking online that included the word disabled was that many were about practical issues. They included things like where to find disabled toilets and how to adapt a house so that someone with a variety of challenges could have a safe and comfortable home. OK, some of those practicalities helped people get into buildings so that they can meet other people. It also makes it easier to go out if you know where there is a toilet adapted for your needs.
Socialising not just surviving
Those questions are good starting points as they help people survive but surely there is more to life than just surviving. Making a building accessible and having suitable toilet facilities can only be a first step in making sure that people have a good quality of life. What about other things that make life more enjoyable like meeting people and doing something other than watching television.
Our craft group was a place for people to go where they felt loved and accepted. In fact, one carer said we were struggling to know where to take this person but then I remembered this group and here we are.
Crafts to us became a tool to help us bring people together so that they could have fun and share their lives. They had the chance to meet other people who were facing similar challenges. Sometimes they had the chance of meeting carers that they had not seen for a while. The carers had a chance of meeting with people they had worked with at one project but had not seen for ages.
All of that came from going to a craft group where we tailored the activities to the needs of people with physical, sensory and cognitive impairments. Our challenge was to find activities that could be done with a carer and a craftee working in partnership.
We managed to find activities for about 150 sessions. We never did exactly the same thing twice. We would do cards in the run up to Christmas and Easter but we pulled out different resources from the cupboard to make them.
What if there were craft groups all over the place where even those with extreme needs felt welcome and accepted? Or what if there were craft groups that were a refuge for people who were struggling at home? Maybe they were caring for someone with mental health issues and needed the space to be themselves for a change. Maybe they were finding it hard relaxing at home and needed to spend time in a safe place with people they could trust.
It would be hard to have one craft group to meet the needs of everyone. We found that once we had a group of people who had extreme needs it was harder for those with less extreme needs to fit in. There again not all craft group leaders have the ability to support people with a particular need. The answer to that is to have craft groups led by different people that met different needs.
What if there were people who were enabled to set up craft groups because in addition to being creative themselves they had the skills to set up and run a craft group. They could run it as a side business. They would be able to draw on a library of activities suitable for people with additional needs. They would be able to learn from others running similar groups.
Do you know what sort of healing that people could experience? It could help heal some people’s finances. It could help heal those who attended because there was love and acceptance. It could help some people relax and the reduction in stress could bring considerable improvement in their health.
Do you know what sort of healing that could bring to society? It could bring healing to communities as it brought people together so that they understood each other’s needs better. It could be old and young, wheelchair user and marathon runner, hard of hearing and someone who hears clearly.
What about you?
Would you like to join a movement that sees value in everyone and wants to bring out the best in them?
Do you enjoy making things and want to use those skills to heal people or even communities?
If so there are two things that you can do.
One is you can start wearing the message yourself or using things that carry the message. We have a variety of items to help you do that on the message-bearers page. The money made from the sales goes towards running this site and developing the training programme.
The other thing you can do is sign up for the newsletter. There is a form to help you do that at the bottom of the page.