Sarah’s Story

The pandemic has thrown many of us into very scary and challenging situations. The lockdowns have been really tough as we’ve dealt with restrictions, isolation and fear for the future. One thing that has been amazing to see at Handcrafted is the way that our trainees build resilience within themselves and find the strength to keep going. Sarah is someone who has done just that.

During the first lockdown, Sarah was struggling with anxiety relating to the virus and did not leave her flat for four months. This was a period of extreme isolation and it really impacted her mental health. In July 2020, she was referred to a social prescriber by her GP. The social prescriber had heard about Handcrafted’s meal deliveries and doorstep support and had got in contact in the hope that we would be able to help Sarah. However, this was at the time that we were beginning to scale down the food support and start opening the workshops again. Sarah’s social prescriber visited the Durham workshop to see what we were all about, and then came back the next week with Sarah herself.

Together, they were able to have a go at the woodwork and get to know the staff. After this session, Sarah’s time with her social prescriber was coming to an end, and she felt ready to attend the workshop on her own.

 “At first I came in through supported transport. After a while, I started coming in on the bus, which was a really big step for me at the time. I felt really safe here, safe emotionally, and it was good to see other people and there’s good banter.

I’d never done woodwork before, but Rob and Graham help break it down into small tasks and I learn new things every week.”

“The thing I’m most proud of is my sewing box, which I made to store equipment and spools of thread. When I finished that, it felt amazing, to go from having no skills in woodwork to make something that I can use myself and be proud of.”

This week in the workshop, Sarah designed her own print which she exposed onto a screen and then screen-printed onto a bag.

After Sarah’s sessions with her social prescriber ended, Handcrafted support staff took over and now offer Sarah support outside of the workshop through home visits and outreach calls. Sarah told us it’s been good to have some structure throughout the second and third lockdowns and that when she found out we were able to stay open and she could attend one session a week she was over the moon. It’s been great to see that despite the restrictions still being place, Sarah has been able to build a support system that has helped with her anxiety this time around.

 “I’d recommend Handcrafted to more social prescribers, mental health teams and crisis teams. I wouldn’t have come without prompting, but now that I have, I’m so glad I did.

“Honestly, the day I come to Handcrafted is the best day of the week.”

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