Repurposing her life through volunteering
St Vincent de Paul’s Op Shop in Kilbirnie has another revealing dimension called Re Sew which happens to be the base for a labyrinth of brilliantly coloured unwanted, discarded fabric and textiles that a community of volunteers is committed to reviving and upcycling.
One of these volunteers is Jade, a sole parent and mother of three, and she’s not just repurposing scraps, she’s repurposing her life. Jade was referred to Volunteer Wellington’s Work and Income programme by her case manager. When she talked about her interest in sewing, Volunteer Wellington helped her connect with Re Sew immediately.
‘I love fashion and I want a career in it.’ Re Sew is an opportune milestone which fits into her big picture. She has already learnt a variety of skills, especially making clothes for herself and her children.
Jade, who is studying towards a Diploma in Fashion, is brimming with ideas. ‘Through Re Sew I’m currently putting together a fashion show for Women’s Refuge to be held at the end of the year. I’m managing the whole thing – the theme, collection, doing up outfits, models, lighting, DJ!’ she says. Raising funds for the show and gaining a foothold in the fashion industry are her goals.
She acknowledges that she’s low on income and has three children to think about, but she’s motivated and determined to chase her ambition of being a fashion designer. ‘Even when gas is low, I get here. I believe in myself.’ Her co-worker, Sophie, points out how quickly Jade evolved from learning the basics to having plans and bringing the right people together so that her ideas can see the light of day.
Amidst the uncertainties of life, Re Sew is Jade’s haven. She loves that she can bounce off creative ideas with her co-workers who are also keen to help with her show. ‘Re Sew is my favourite place to come to – besides a fabric store of course!” she says cheerfully.
Paid employment is her end goal. Her strategy has been to find a volunteer role in a community clothing store that is creative and innovative. ‘Volunteer Wellington helped me find the perfect role. Volunteering showed me that if you want something bad enough you have to go out there and get it.’
In her community, she finds that women just need a boost. Re Sew is a great initiative that galvanises them, especially young women, into action, Jade says. Her coordinator, Caroline O’Reilly, keeps her up to date about job opportunities.
An unexpected but profound outcome for Jade has been a strong following on her social media pages of young women who draw inspiration from her. They have let her know that they’ve been more than able to move on from toxic relationships and create purposeful lives.
It seems fitting that Jade has chosen “Warrior Goddess” as the theme for her Women’s Refuge show – she won’t let her spirit wane.
STORY AND PHOTO BY RICHA KOHLI | Thank you to Volunteer Wellington for sharing this interview with us.