Children in some of the poorest parts of Africa are being clothed thanks to the sewing skills of a team of volunteer women from Denbighshire.
The Dress A Girl Around the World project is based at the North Wales Women’s Centre in Rhyl where their group of enthusiastic seamstresses has just been boosted by a £700 grant which is buying them six new sewing machines.
They will be used by up to 20 volunteers aged from 21 to 80, some of them new to sewing, who are using their skills to turn donated material into clothing for children in Africa.
The cash for the new machines has been provided by the North Wales Police and Community Trust (PACT) and has been welcomed by Abby Lewis, Chief Executive Officer at the Women’s Centre.
She said: “We started with nothing but a lot of material that had been donated and five old sewing machines which we have to repair ourselves but now we’re ready to box up 50 dresses and send them to Africa.
“Some of the ladies have done a lot of sewing and are very good but we are also experiencing a terrific demand from people who want to sew including a lot of younger women who would like to learn.
“We are planning more classes in the future and it’s fantastic having these new machines – they’ll help a lot.”
Dorothy Marlow, aged 80, learned to sew as a child and she said: “I learned in secondary school when you had to make your own school dress.
“I came down to the Centre and I saw what they were doing and when I saw all the beautiful fabrics that had been donated I just wanted to give a hand.
“I had always sewn at home as a hobby and to make something to go out in on a Saturday night and it’s nice to come here and meet new people who have the same interests so it’s a social thing too.
Abby Lewis added: “It’s really been a brilliant project which started last year as an Adult Learners Wales initiative for Afghan and Syrian refugees in the area and when that came to an end they kept the patterns and the machines for us to do our own project.
“We had been limited by the number of machines and one day we had ten women waiting here for one to come free but this grant will make a huge difference to the project.”
Initially PACT had allocated £400 for the grant but Phil Roberts, from PACT corporate sponsor CGI who provide IT support for North Wales Police, came up with extra funding.
He said: “It just seemed to us that this was a project that was something different. It’s creative and imaginative and doing a lot of good in the community and across the world.
“There are lots of ladies who have the skills but don’t have the machines and the material and it just felt to us that we could put them all together.”
PACT Chair Ashley Rogers said: “It’s absolutely brilliant and so multi-faceted because it is recycling old material which would otherwise go to landfill and at the same time making use of the sewing skills in this community to clothe kids in Africa.
“It’s three elements in one and all are positive and it’s great that we can support local initiatives like the Women’s Centre in Rhyl and I know the support the centre receives from North Wales Police makes a very real difference.”
Dress A Girl Around the World project is just one of many projects that have been supported by PACT, an independent charity launched in 1998 to support community initiatives, particularly those in which the police are involved.
In that time it has helped over 2,500 projects, investing in communities right across North Wales.
Ashley Rogers added: “For many who are involved in the projects, this is their first interaction with the police, so making this a positive experience can have profound consequences on their future life choices.
“From Gwynedd in the west across to Flintshire and Wrexham in the east, PACT continues to support projects that enable positive and sustainable community development and this has never been more important than right now.”
PACT offer a range of grants of up to £2,000 for community projects – for more details and how to apply go to https://www.pactnorthwales.co.uk/applications-ceisiadau/