Artizan International's new Harrogate shop brings colour and culture to Oxford Street

In what has been a tough year for all charities the story of one based in Harrogate and how it has been able to open a new shop thanks in part to Harrogate Scrubbers answering a call for help offers a ray of sunshine.

By Graham Chalmers
Tuesday, 13th October 2020, 5:53 pm
Updated Tuesday, 13th October 2020, 5:54 pm
Susie Hart MBE in the new Artizan International shop in Harrogate.
Susie Hart MBE in the new Artizan International shop in Harrogate.

Harrogate-based charity Artizan International have faced many challenges this year with Covid impacting both the local craft sessions they run for differently abled people.

But, due to the help of the local community, the charity successfully opened its new shop this week.

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Located on Oxford Street, Artizan International new premises boast a retail outlet on the ground floor, a craft training area on the first floor and their offices on the second floor.

Donated to the charity by the Harrogate Hub and an anonymous donor, it has transformed the fortunes of the charity in what has been a very difficult year.

Having previously run weekly craft sessions for adults and children based in Bilton, this new central location is providing the charity with a new range of fundraising options with a great presence on the high street. Instead of just selling the crafts they make online, they are able to showcase their products directly to the public and raise more money to support people with disabilities living in poverty in the developing world.

Juggling the new shop development along with their existing work has been a huge challenge over the last few months, but one that is finally paying off.

After literally closing their doors during lockdown they had to find new ways of reaching out to the people who depended on their support.

Managing director Susie Hart MBE said: "We had to swap from face to face craft sessions to video tutorials and zoom get togethers, sending out over 100 craft packs a month to keep people going.

"Whilst also refurbishing and renovating the new shop it has been a huge challenge for all the UK team.

"Alongside this we also have teams out in Peru & Ecuador, all of whom had to stop their craft production during their lockdowns, resulting in them having no income.

"This also presented us with another problem needing the goods they make for the new shop.

"Thankfully the local community have pulled together with groups like the Harrogate Scrubbers sewing for us.

"It really has been an overwhelming experience. Not only are we on track to open the shop this week, but by doing so will be able to start generating an income for our teams who are struggling so badly abroad."

While initially just a retail outlet, the charity plans to open a café as part of the shop in the new year, staffed by people with hearing disabilities.

Their goal is to change the perception of people with disabilities and prove that they can make just as important a contribution to society, helping them gain their own independence.

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