Fashion designer Harsharan Landa runs Maidie Create, a social enterprise that runs sewing courses for vulnerable children and adults in London. She set up the micro-provider in 2012 after being awarded an innovation grant by Barking and Dagenham council.
Named after Landa's French grandmother, whose name means ‘help me’, Maidie Create organises sewing classes for people who use drug and alcohol services, refugees, women affected by domestic violence and people with autistic spectrum disorders. Landa now hopes to adapt the model and deliver the courses to people with learning disabilities, other disabled people and older people with personal budgets.
The six-week sewing courses, where participants make anything from handbags and make-up bags to cushion covers and clothing, aim to give people new skills and confidence to work towards independence and better outcomes. Maidie Create, which helped 74 people last year, hopes to provide volunteering and employment opportunities for participants who want to develop their skills further and support their peers.
“By teaching them transferrable sewing and fashion skills, it helps give them confidence,” says Landa. “My aim is to be a listening ear as well as helping them back onto the road of their future. Being a micro-provider has allowed me to do this.”
One story she mentions is of a woman with mental health problems who had become estranged from her daughter. At first this woman came with her carer but soon developed the confidence to come to class on her own. The sewing inspired her to bring in some fabric that had been given to her by her late mother and make two bags, one for her and one for her daughter. The gift, says Landa, reunited mother and daughter after an absence of many years.
More on Community Catalysts
Community Catalysts was set up in 2010 by small providers' umbrella organisation Shared Lives Plus to stimulate the development of micro-providers in order to increase choice for personal budget holders, by working with commissioners and micro-entrepreneurs.
Earlier this month, it was made one of three winners of the first EU Social Innovation Competition, which is designed to identify innovative ways of creating employment and received over 600 entries. Community Catalysts' winning proposal was to establish a managed online network of business mentors to support micro-entrepreneurs set up sustainable and affordable health and social care services.
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