A Spotlight on Wednesday’s Craft and Conversation, which started a year ago.
A joint initiative run by Empathy Action and Tonbridge Welcomes Refugees, it brings together women from Syria and the UK. Here’s what it’s all about by our Becky Matthewson, a regular volunteer at craft and conversation.
Hello, I’m Becky and I volunteer with Craft & Conversation. I’d like to invite you to take a seat, grab a coffee, and hear a little of what we get up to most Wednesday mornings, a time that has become a highlight of my week.
First on the scene is always Sandy; she lights a single scented candle and warms the place up. On goes the kettle, out comes the cake, and the door is propped open in welcome.
Sandy is the gentle engine of this gathering. Her ideas fuel its smooth running, and she shows us all how we can create whatever we want.
We are a smallish group of women from near and afar. Some of us can craft, others are better at brewing the coffee (like me, although I’m grateful that Sandy never gives up on my efforts).
Each week we find needles and threads, wools or coloured pencils, or grey offcuts from fleece blankets produced for refugees (now ready to be upcycled in a very imaginative way).
Sometimes the group is quiet with concentration, the calm punctuated only by a low recital of numbers, in Arabic or English, as we count our stitches. At other times, there is raucous laughter when one of the native English speakers attempts to learn the Arabic word for, say, “bubble” (it’s a tricky one).
Together we sit and talk around a big red table, making anything from juggling balls to friendship bracelets. Today we crochet squares in cream and blue. When finished they will be shaped into a blanket for a Syrian friend with a new-born.
We even know how to build gingerbread houses for Christmas.
Which leads me onto food, because we always end up talking about food. It seems that the Syrian women among us cook in a very go-slow and thoughtful kind of way – never is it a shove-in-the-oven affair. The way they describe it makes us all stop and listen. The flavours, the spices, the eating of it. It’s a taste of home.
Craft & Conversation meets on Wednesdays between 10.30am and 12.00pm. If you’d like to be involved in this, or other work, please get in touch. Craft may not be your forte, but neither is it mine (I know I’m better at making tea).
It’s a wonderful opportunity to be part of something rather special.
Contact us to find out more about volunteering opportunities.