New shop set to open with support of Harrogate Scrubbers

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.

Tuesday, 6th October 2020, 9:37 am
Harrogate's Susie Hart MBE with volunteer sewers from Harrogate Scrubbers at her new shop for her charity Artizan International.

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, and also the opening of their new shop on Oxford Street.

Thankfully due to the help of the local community, they should still be on track for the shop opening next Tuesday, October 13.

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When lockdown happened earlier this year, Artizan International had to stop their weekly craft sessions, resulting in the temporary closure of what had been a social lifeline for many disabled people, and one of the few opportunities many of them had to get out and learn new crafts.

Not only did it impact their UK activities but lockdown in countries like Ecuador and Peru has resulted in the workshops they run there also stopping.

These not only gave disabled people in those countries a purpose, but it was also their only source of income, so they are not only dealing with Covid but are now unable to work.

The knock-on effect of this also resulted in them no longer being able to supply the charity with the crafts for them to sell in their new shop.

The charity's chief executive Susie Hart MBE said: Since launching Artizan International in 2013, our goal has been to empower and support differently abled people to provide them with the same opportunities in life, and in developing countries an income and employment so they can support their own families.

"Covid has had a huge impact, and we need to be able to continue to support everyone involved as best we can.

"The recent amazing donation of the premises on Oxford Street was a dream come true as it provided us with premises to showcase their work and increase the revenue we can generate for them.

"Lockdown in South America, however, has shut down the supply chain and left us without the merchandise we needed to open the new store."

The charity urgently needed volunteers to help sew some of the crafts using fabric designed and printed by the teams in Peru and Ecuador.

Posting an appeal on social media, many people in the community have responded, including members of the Harrogate Scrubbers who recently provided Harrogate Hospital with over 3,000 sets of scrubs.

Harrogate Scrubbers member Claire Strachan who saw the appeal said: "We have a group of over 850 volunteers who recently helped sew scrubs for both the local hospital, GP’s and hospices.

"They were an unstoppable team, with many feeling lost when the appeal came to an end. Asking the group to support the charity has given some group members that sense of purpose back and it is so inspiring to see the enthusiasm return.’

Group member Elizabeth Sewell is one of the volunteers, said: "I am delighted to be able to work with Artizan, whose whole approach is one I totally support. It's ideal to build people's self-worth and independence by giving them a skill and a market for their products rather than cash hand-outs.

"I love using my own crafting experience to help in this way and the fabrics and products are a delight to work with."

Susie Hart has been blown away by the response from volunteers.

She said: "We are so grateful to the people who have come forward to help. It will not only benefit the shop opening, but also enable us to support the team’s abroad.

"Longer term we will also be opening a café in the shop, providing employment for people with hearing difficulties in this country.

"This all supports our long-term goal of removing discrimination and giving people with different abilities the same chances in life that we all deserve."

If you would like to get involved with supporting the charity, please email [email protected] for more details as ongoing help will be needed.

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