We provide a year-long Sewing and designing Course, which leads to employment or self-employment in the textile industry. As well as teaching disadvantaged women technical skills, we build their confidence through group and 1:1 mentoring, teaching soft skills such as timekeeping, motivation, and teamwork, and introduce them to the basics of self-employment including tax, marketing, and customer service.
We are community interest and we support the most marginalized women in society, those with the limited English language, victims of domestic violence, those with disabilities and learning difficulties, and those that are isolated and lonely. All beneficiaries in our program are women, and the vast majority are of Black African descent and were born outside of the UK. Currently, we have a cohort of 30 women learners, 80% are black, 15% Asian and 5% white. 10% are over 60, and 2 individuals are recovering from strokes. Currently, we have three volunteers who assist us as the number of participants increases.
The Root MHSF brings hope and assurance to participants in the Thurrock community just before the COVID 19 hits. Our year-long training started in August 2019 and it was meant to finish September 2020. We have done our first six months of our training which ended in February 2020. We were about to start our next six months of the program which is our final and professional level in March 2020 when COVID 19 hits.
We have had to cancel all fundraising events and cease formal operations. We have had to furlough our part-time teacher and suspend sewing employability skills and self-employment courses. Our course was delivered at St John’s Vicarage, Dock Rd, Tilbury RM18 7PP which is now closed. We have been using this time to make plans to migrate our offer online but we are presently unable to offer an online solution as we do not have the funds to pay our qualified trainers, volunteers, project director, and employing a part-time qualify administrator to oversee online migration.
The course was due to finish in September, with our beneficiaries looking forward to setting up their own business or entering employment. Many are reporting concerns that this will not now happen, further enhancing their anxiety.
The funding will enable us to restart our life-changing sewing and employability course which will help our trainees finish the remaining six months of the full course.