Hull Youth For Christ
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Sew it begins ...


There is something about sewing that combines practical skill, creativity, resourcefulness, good stewardship, individuality, collaboration, mindfulness and play. Orts is a new venture which we have started with Liane, a deacon-in-training with the Methodist church and long-time friend and collaborator.

The word "orts" means leftover scraps. Some of the women we have started sewing with initially are engaged in or have recently exited prostitution. They see themselves as the scraps of society, the bits that are generally considered waste material to be thrown away. We have been donated several old sewing machines, as well as money for a couple of new ones, and set up a safe, local place (in the former pharmacy in the Parish Hall) where they can come and gain skills, self-worth and self-confidence and explore their own creativity.

Many of the women have issues with low self-esteem, a lack of basic skills and little or no previous experience of employment. Some have never used a sewing machine before. All the women are keen to be productive members of society, to find their calling, be able to stand on their own two feet and hold their heads up a little higher.

The ethos of the Orts project is one of mutuality, generosity, and creativity. We aim to create a therapeutic community which is sensitive to the needs of the most vulnerable women among us but is not about doing "to" or "for" but "with". So, sessions are kept small enough as not to be threatening or unmanageable, but are a mixed community of people where no distinction is made between people from whichever walk of life they come. In this way we hope that even the most marginalised will be able to feel themselves more confidently part of mainstream society, not defined simply by their sex work, addictions or need. The idea is to be a place where we can all discover something more of our true worth, rather than writing ourselves off as trash.

Sewing has transformation as its heartbeat in a way that permits potential in every scrappy swatch. So formerly disregarded and discarded fabrics become quirky chickens or patchwork cushions, innocuous buttons and tired, leftover yarn suddenly take centre-stage in bringing owls to life or turning plain into personality. Those who come have fun together, share their skills, make mistakes fearlessly and play with creating beautiful stuff out of left-over scraps of fabric. And all the while, at some deeper level, there is a tangible sense of healing going on as acceptance is found, defenses are dropped, life stories are shared, the helped become the helpers and a glimpse of the glorious new patchwork of God's kingdom is revealed.

Anna