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Judi Coe

New trustees - top  Sarah McManus (left) and Jane Webber; below Alex Collis (left) and Karin Read

Sew Positive welcomes new chair and trustees

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Sew Positive has appointed four new trustees, including a new chair.

CEO Melissa Santiago Val said: “We are delighted that Sarah McManus, Jane Webber, Alex Collis and Karin Read have all agreed to join our Board, with Sarah taking up the role of chair. All four bring unique skills and experience to strengthen the charity and help us to define and shape our future services.”

Sarah McManus

Sarah has over 25 years’ senior leadership experience across Health and Social Care, including as Hospital Director (East) for SpaMedica and Head of Implementation for Vita Health Groups NHS mental health services. She also led The Papworth Trust’s Care and Employment Services across the East of England. Sarah’s passion lies in supporting others to have better futures. Her background is in developing and executing strategies that deliver services with sustainable outcomes for participants.

Jane Webber

Jane is a former Sales and Marketing Director for several well-known technology companies in the UK and Europe. She retrained as a nutritionist in 2008 and now helps midlife women make informed decisions about their eating and lifestyle habits. Jane has held several volunteer positions over the years and is passionate about helping others.

Alex Collis

Alex has over 10 years’ experience of working in community development and setting up volunteer-led projects, particularly in the area of food justice. During COVID, she headed up delivery of the city’s emergency food provision. She was also a city councillor, heading up work on wellbeing, food justice and sustainable food, and open spaces. She works as a Humanist celebrant, leading non-religious funerals, weddings and naming ceremonies and is also a qualified pastoral carer, volunteering as a hospice chaplain.

Karin Read

Karin specialises in knowledge and engagement of the local voluntary and statutory sector, currently working at Care Network Cambridgeshire. She also has a background in costume design and believes in the positive power of sewing – this combined with her running hobby led her to raise funds for Sew Positive in the Manchester Marathon in 2021.

Image: New trustees – top  Sarah McManus (left) and Jane Webber; below Alex Collis (left) and Karin Read

Sew Positive still seeks a new treasurer. Read about the role and find out how to apply here.

The winning photo - Participants show off lampshades made from upcycled and donated fabrics

Shades of success

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A photograph of Sew Positive participants – showing off fabulous lampshades made from upcycled and donated fabrics – won the Cambridge Centre for Voluntary Services (CCVS) photo competition 2023!

Sew Positive won the People’s Vote with a wonderful photo taken after participants made lampshades at its Cultivate course funded by Cambridgeshire County Council. The photographer was Melissa Santiago Val, the charity’s founder and CEO.

This course was a Social Prescribing programme aimed at people over 65 who are at risk of social care need, involving the use creative of sewing, upcycling and crafts to address social isolation.

Needle little calm in your life? Try Sew Positive! – Cambridge Network

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A charity is helping share the wellbeing calm of creativity, one stitch at a time, thanks to grant funding support from South Cambridgeshire District Council.

Sew Positive is a small charity that hosts various classes and events bringing people together through sewing for positive mental health.

Their events have included a wellbeing creative day at Cambridge Central mosque, embroidery kit days at Shelford Library, and upcycling lampshades at the Hub in Cambourne by repurposing donated fabric.

Read the full article on the Cambridge Network here

denim planter

Make a planter workshops to calm your mind and help the planet

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It’s amazing what you can do with old clothes and textiles! Join Sew Positive to learn how to turn redundant fabric into an attractive plant holder.

Sew Positive – the Cambridge charity that uses sewing to support isolated people and help improve mental health – is offering two opportunities next month for you to come along with your unwanted fabric and go away with a useful planter for your home.

Learn to make your own upcycled denim planters using old jeans and a 2-litre plastic bottle. Come and take part in a fun, slow-stitching workshop to calm your mind and help the planet. Bring a clean 2-litre straight-sided soft drink bottle and your old denim (or it will be supplied). No sewing skills are needed!

The first free workshop takes place on Monday 23rd October from 2pm – 4pm  at Cambridge Grand Arcade, First Floor,  where Sew Positive is taking part in the week-long series of events called Let’s Go Circular 2023.  The workshop is preceded the same day by a taster ‘Sewcialise’ session (10am to 12 noon), where people are invited to bring their own sewing projects to work on in a friendly and supportive environment. This session is for people with basic sewing skills to mend or make their own projects (not alterations). Volunteers will also be on hand and selected upcycled materials provided.

Later that week, a second planter workshop is planned for Thursday 26th October from 2-5pm at Akeman Street Community Centre, where Sew Positive is involved in the Food for the Planet Festival.  The festival, organised by Cambridge City Council and Cambridge Sustainable Food, encourages people to grow their own food and make positive steps to tackle climate change at a personal level.

Book your place for any of these events at Sew Positive Linktree


Zhenya Nekrasova

Ukrainian refugee learns new skills thanks to sewing charity: South West Londoner

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A Ukrainian refugee was able to connect with the local community and join fellow refugees in learning new skills thanks to the efforts of Sew Positive, the Cambridge sewing charity, supported by The National Lottery.

Zhenya Nekrasova, 26, moved to Cambridgeshire in April 2022, away from her family and friends in Zaporizhzhya amid the ongoing conflict in her home country. Initially struggling with separation from her family and knowing no one in the local community, Nekrasova discovered Sew Positive after meeting charity founder Melissa Santiago-Val.

Read the full article in SW Londoner here

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