‘Upcycling’ is a recent trend borne out of the modern environmental conscience. The process of upcycling involves creating something new and useful from old or discarded products and materials. Clothes, furniture and decorations have all been given the upcycling treatment, resulting in inspired and entirely unique pieces – a similar process to recycling, but with a greater aesthetic focus. Whilst upcycling is something that anyone with old materials and a spark of creativity can participate in, Craftspace, an art organisation that engages young people and encourages social mobility, have adopted the trend to create a fantastic social impact.
Making My Home is a project in Birmingham providing support for young homeless people in the area through workshops centred on the ideas of upcycling and sustainability. The young people involved had the opportunity to work alongside Nessa Doran O’Reilly, a professional designer from Furniture Magpies which specialises in repurposing old products into eye-catching pieces of furniture. The involvement of an industry specialist means that honest and helpful advice is available from someone who can really help them develop their ideas and demonstrates that these skills can be transferred directly into employment.
The Making My Home project provides a platform for those involved to express their creative flair and an opportunity to shape the environment around them with the items they create, producing a real sense of home and comfort that they may not have been fortunate enough to experience before. By engaging with some of Birmingham’s young homeless population, the project not only offers them stability and regular coaching throughout the creative process, but also a chance to meet other people in similar situations and recognise that they are not alone. The result of the effort, cooperation and skill required and demonstrated by the project is that it provides valuable experience. Participants can take this with them into the future, helping them to find steady employment and independence and aiding their transition from homelessness to security and comfort. Although a primary aim of the project is to provide enjoyment and relief, it is hoped that participants will take away a sense of personal achievement and recognise the importance of their role in the project.
Many of us can take for granted the security that a home provides, but Making My Home provides participants with safety and comfort at St Basil’s Conybere Gardens, an organisation that has provided accommodation and support for young homeless people in the surrounding area for over forty years.