Written by Jayden, a volunteer at Escape2Make’s Craft Club.

The Escape2Make (E2M) Craft Club originated from a five-week textiles programme for the 2022 Green Festival. It is a free fortnightly activity for 11-18-year-olds supported by the Pots of Possibility Fund. The Craft Club group have worked on a variety of crafts including knitting, crochet and embroidery which led to longer projects such as the blanket we’re currently working on.

Escape2Make’s Craft Club started in September 2023 with support from the Pots of Possibility fund. Free fortnightly sessions for 11-18-year-olds are run at Ethel & Em in Lancaster by crafting expert Melanie McKay. The group explores sustainable craft activities and makes items to donate to local community groups. Jayden – also a member of E2M’s Youth Board – has volunteered with the club since it started.

Photo: Jayden volunteering at E2M’s Craft Club

The first E2M event I got involved in was the 2022 Green Festival; at this I attended the initial textiles group run by Melanie McKay. These sessions were interesting and helped me build friendships and started my love for crochet (and my ever-growing yarn collection). These initial sessions started the idea of a more regular craft club up both in my mind and in the E2M team.

At the end of the sessions Melanie offered me some summer work at any point, and so the next summer after my GCSEs I took her up on the offer. I’ve now been working at her shop, Ethel&Em, for about 9 months.

The idea of a craft club was brought up at E2M’s Youth Board meeting just after the Green Festival and was met with a very enthusiastic response. This led to a team of us fleshing out the timelines and ideas for the club on our 2023 away day. About a month before the club had its first session, Melanie approached me and asked if I wanted to be a volunteer for the club. This would involve attending the two sessions helping teach the participants and making sure the whole club is an inclusive and enjoyable experience.

Craft Club is the most recently set up of Escape2Make ’s regular clubs, with free fortnightly sessions for 11-18-year-olds running in the local yarn store Ethel&Em. Since the first session we’ve worked on a variety of crafts including knitting, crochet and embroidery. We started off teaching everyone the foundations of crochet and knitting and allowed those who were a bit more advanced a chance to work on their own projects, all while having a chance to chat to each other and make some new friends.

As time has moved on, the group got more confident with knitting and crochet, and we started our current project; this has involved the young people making a collection of squares to be stitched together into a blanket to be donated to a local community group as chosen by the participants.

Over the past 8 months, I’ve had the chance to work both in a one-on-one setting and in groups with the participants of the club to improve their skills in various crafts. I’ve seen some amazing progress from the participants (which has been my favourite part of being a volunteer). Seeing the excitement on their faces when their projects go right and seeing their confidence improving has been a really fulfilling experience. The group are so lovely and the atmosphere they create at the club makes volunteering something I genuinely look forward to doing.

Volunteering with the club has given me a unique opportunity to develop my skills in communication and leadership. Some of the participants are the same age as me and some are quite a bit younger which has given me an interesting perspective on how people of different ages learn and interact. It has challenged me to think about how I can teach things in a different way or phrase something for someone younger than me or with less experience without being condescending.

It’s been really enjoyable to make bonds with people across the whole span of ages and work to improve everyone’s skills including my own.

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