Needlecraft International Project is a one-year project working with African women and their families living in Croydon, London. Participants learn practical skills such as sewing, budgeting, and also make new friends.

Image of hands using a sewing machine

The project builds confidence and perseverance and supports the participants to develop a skill that they can teach others, and that allows them to produce items to sell or give as a gift.

The sewing skills help the women learn how to make their own clothes and other items. Some participants aim to use these skills to find work or start their own businesses and for some having this skill helps save money.

The majority of participants are facing financial insecurity. As refugees and asylum seekers, some are unable to find work. There are also other barriers to work such as language skills and a lack of confidence. Through attending the project, participants not only learn new skills but also build their confidence.

At the end of each session, participants share thoughts on the session and ideas for future activities. A steering group also meet monthly to plan sessions and activities. One of the ideas they have put in place for the project is to have a business advisor come and talk to participants who want to take this further.

The project participants face challenges finding employment. These can be language barriers, a lack of skills or education, low self-esteem, and cultural differences. I’ve been working here for 15 years and have seen how much of an impact the group can have on helping people understand local systems, grow in confidence and become more integrated in society.

Lucy Njomo

Project Lead

Funded by People’s Health Trust using money raised by Health Lottery London West