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Sew Positive sashiko slow stitching

A special Sunday with Sew Positive and PAUS

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Join Sew Positive on Sunday June 23 for a relaxing morning creative session doing Sashiko slow-stitching using upcycled denim at PAUS – described as ‘a breathing, bathing space – an oasis of calm set in the Cambridgeshire countryside inspired by the Scandinavian philosophy of balance’.

PAUS has partnered with Sew Positive to offer this 2.5 hour creative session as a fundraiser to support its work with isolated communities in Cambridge.

Leaving the week behind, you will learn a new skill that is relaxing, decorative, and can also be applied to mending clothes. Sashiko means “little stabs” in Japanese, and originated to extend the life of working garments when fabric was at a shortage. It can be used as a mindful activity to take time, slow down and embrace imperfections and sustainability. You will also learn about textile waste and the circular economy and go home with a natural calico tote bag with an embroidered patch of sashiko. There will be an option to purchase limited edition bags made from upcycled denim by Sew Positive volunteers on the day.

There have been many studies exploring the relationship between creativity and well-being: the benefits, particularly of the calming immersion in crafts as a form of support. Sewing and mending allows Sew Positive’s regular participants to discover a coping mechanism for mental illness, isolation or long-term health issues, helping them to connect by sharing stories and skills, and Sew Positive offers limited edition sessions like this to support its work.

You can choose to come just for the Sashiko session, or why not add on your hilltop lunch and bathing and make a day of immersive relaxation and nourishing your mind and body, while supporting a small local charity!


  • 10:00 – 12:30 pm: Sashiko slow stitching class with Sew Positive
  • 12:30pm – 1pm: Barefoot walking trail
  • 1pm – 2.30pm: 3-course homemade lunch at the Bistro
  • 3:00 – 6:00 pm: Relax in our open-air wood-fired hot tubs and saunas

You can choose one or all of the above options, and the Sashiko session fee will be donated to Sew Positive after costs. Please follow this link and search under Creative events on June 23rd.

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.

Could you be Sew Positive’s new treasurer?

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Sew Positive is looking to recruit a new treasurer.

Over the past two years, Sew Positive has gone from strength to strength and we are now looking to expand our Board of Trustees to help shape the future. It’s an exciting time to join the Board as we work to build on our programmes for individuals, our community and businesses.

We are fully committed to eliminating discrimination and promoting equality and diversity in the work we undertake and in the provision of all our services. We welcome applications from a wide range of individuals; passion for the organisation and our work is key, along with an understanding of and a commitment to the legal function of the trustee role. Experience of the charitable sector is desirable but not essential.

Sew Positive is currently a small charity, therefore all trustee roles require a blend of strategic thinking and hands-on involvement to shape the future direction of the charity. Each trustee appointment is for a term of three years.

All trustees must be able to commit to four Board meetings and one strategic planning day per year in Cambridge. The role generally also requires an average of one day per month for trustee responsibilities. All trustee roles are voluntary but reasonable expenses, such as travel costs, will be reimbursed.

The role of treasurer

The Treasurer will oversee the financial and assurance matters of the charity in line with good practice and in accordance with the governing document and legal requirements. The Treasurer will report to the Board of Trustees at regular intervals about the financial health of the organisation to enable the Board to better make strategic decisions. The Treasurer will ensure that effective financial and other risk measures, controls and procedures are put in place, and are appropriate for the charity.

Summary of responsibilities

  • Oversee the presentation of budgets, internal management accounts and annual financial statements to the Board of Trustees
  • Lead the Board’s duty to ensure that proper accounting records are kept, financial resources are properly controlled, invested and economically spent, in line with good governance, legal and regulatory requirements
  • Monitor and advise on the financial viability of the charity
  • Oversee financial controls and adherence to systems, regularly liaising with the Chair and Chief Executive to ensure that policies are observed and operational risk is minimised
  • Act as the Trustee lead on the appointment of and liaison with professional advisors, to include, but not limited to, external accountants
  • Act as a counter-signatory on large payments
  • Liaise with the Chief Executive to keep an overview of the organisation’s affairs and to provide support as appropriate including business development
  • Liaise with the Chief Executive to develop the financial understanding of the Board of Trustees.

Please note that the Treasurer also has the general responsibilities of a Trustee.

If you’re interested in applying, please send us the following:
● an up-to-date CV, biography or LinkedIn profile
● a short supporting statement explaining how you believe your skills and experience would add value to Sew Positive
● Details of any business or other interests which might give rise to conflict of interest, and
how you could address this should your application be successful.

If you have any queries about any aspect of the appointment process, need additional information or would like to have an informal and confidential discussion then please contact

Read more about the role of trustees here.

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

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

Tackling Textile Waste: Cambridge Edition

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Whatever your thoughts on the fashion industry, clothes are crucial. Not only do they keep us warm and dry, but they help us express ourselves, conveying aspects of personality, taste and the cultures or trends that we
subscribe to.

The problem is, in recent years, consumption of clothing has gone through a dizzying increase; in the last two decades alone, the amount of clothes being bought around the world has doubled, with over 80 billion garments made every year. Each item of clothing uses a vast quantity of energy, raw materials, chemicals, labour and water in its production, making fast fashion a pressing environmental challenge faced by the planet.

Click here to read the full article.

Sew Positive to upcycle textile waste provided by Cambridge office fit-out specialist COEL

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Sew Positive, the Cambridge sewing and repair charity, has partnered with COEL to find ways of reusing and upcycling sample fabrics for use in office and workspace interiors.

The charity helps people to learn to make, repair, mend, upcycle and repurpose clothes. It also aims to build communities of like-minded people facing social exclusion, and those working with the charity have found how sewing can be calming, and improve mental health and wellbeing.

Now it has teamed up with Cambridge-based office fit-out and design specialist COEL to cut down textile waste, providing discontinued swatches and remnants from previous projects.

Click here to read the full article on Cambridge Independent.

Sew Positive’s National Lottery funding for ‘Sewcialise and Upcycle’ workshops

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Cambridge charities Sew Positive and Cambridge Women’s Resources Centre (CWRC) have been awarded £10,000 National Lottery funding to run a year-long programme of workshops and events to tackle climate change through fashion and textile recycling.

The programme includes teaching repairing and mending, upcycling and repurposing clothes. Workshops will range from using a sewing machine and making sustainable sanitary products to creative workshops on repurposing clothes and charity shop finds.

The first series of weekly two-hour afternoon courses starts on April 19 and lasts 12 weeks. Courses will be repeated in autumn and spring terms for new groups.

Click here to read the full article in Cambridge Independent.

A Lasting Memento of the Queen’s Jubilee

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Haslingfield is having a go at the Sew Positive Jubilee Community Bunting Challenge.

Click here to listen to the interview on the BBC.

Employee Wellbeing

Sew Positive and Phoenix Trust Collaborate

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Phoenix Trust, a charity supporting people with learning disabilities, participated in a workshop organised by Sew Positive to customise aprons for their new cake making business. Phoenix Trust’s association with Sew Positive started when they very kindly provided a wonderful array of masks towards the start of the pandemic.

Recently they came on site with their sewing machines, offering not just their time and expertise, but also materials. The Phoenix co-workers were delighted with their designs which have subsequently received many compliments! It was also a great opportunity to have a go at learning a new skill working on the sewing machine, cutting the fabric and using the iron to press pieces flat.

Click here to read the full article.

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