Birkenhead community group turning textiles into treasure this Christmas

A Wirral-based community group is using Christmas decoration-making to help stop clothes and textiles from going to waste.

Market Street-based Make It Happen Birkenhead is a community Interest Group which is using the festive season to help give their Textiles As Treasure project a boost, as well as providing local people with an opportunity to meet up and swap recycling and reuse ideas.

The project has received nearly £8000 from the Merseyside Recycling & Waste Authority and Veolia Community Fund 2021/22 to help deliver waste reduction, reuse and recycling education in the local community.

Amy Butterworth, CEO at Make It Happen, said, “Our Textiles as Treasure project is aiming to reduce textiles and clothes waste in the local community. Recently we kicked off a run of workshops with card and gift tag making in our brand new space ‘Place of Contribution’ on Argyle street, Birkenhead. We’ve had lots of people drop into the workshops to get crafty and enjoy a hot drink and conversations with others in the community.”

To successfully deliver the project, Make It Happen are:

  • working with local partners via a fortnightly collection to gather unwanted textiles
  • accepting textiles donations at their Social Supermarket
  • sorting, washing and ironing as required and storing donated textiles which are sold in the Make It Happen ‘pay as you feel’ shop
  • running fortnightly sewing sessions to show customers how clothing can be repaired, altered and improved
  • using social media to encourage people to de-clutter and give away items they no longer use

An estimated 20,000 tonnes* of textiles are discarded from households each year in the Liverpool City Region, a lot of which could still be used. It is this behaviour the project is hoping to change and itself will look to stop 50 tonnes of textiles from going to waste.

Amy Butterworth continued, “This is the perfect craft for re-using the smaller pieces of fabric that were left over from our other projects this year. Using these fabric scraps we created festive collages onto cards with popular motifs such as presents and pine trees that can be given to others to spread joy. There has been a warm and welcoming atmosphere and sharing of creative ideas and it really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Make it Happen!”

One of the workshop participants is local woman Jen Gerritsen, who said, “I’m loving having some ‘me’ time and being creative amongst people. I love the idea of Textiles as Treasure, and the fact that we are recycling and reducing waste.”

Councillor Tony Concepcion, Chairperson at Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority, “The Christmas period can be a challenging one for many, so it’s great to see one of our community projects involved not just in reuse and recycling, but also in giving people an opportunity to socialise and just be together with others at this time of year.”

Amy Butterworth continued, “By creating a ‘let’s waste less’ culture within the local area we hope we are encouraging people to recycle or donate rather than throw items away. This will reduce local wastage and encourage the participants to discuss with their family and friends how textiles can be reused and show how by being creative items can be reused and have a longer life.”

Images: (photos taken before new government Plan B Covid guidelines) – Participants at the Make It Happen workshops in Birkenhead, December 2021

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