Garlinge mum’s creative studios to support mental health, combat isolation and provide alternative path to employment

Creative classes with Amy

The power of crafting to help mental health, combat isolation and also create avenues into employment are the driving forces behind a new community interest company set up by Garlinge mum Amy Hughes.

The  39-year-old has registered Community Creative Studios with the aim of running creative classes and support groups for everyone from children who are being bullied at school, adults with learning needs and people suffering with isolation and loneliness.

Inspired by the experience of her youngest son George, 16, she also wants to use creative classes to help those who are maybe struggling to find conventional routes into employment.

Amy Hughes

Amy said: “George has severe epilepsy and we (Amy and husband Stuart) wonder how he will fit into mainstream employment. So, my husband has been teaching him to weld and he is good at it.

“It gives him a real sense of achievement and, in a world that fights him, that is amazing to see. He has been making keyrings out of nuts and bolts that he wants me to sell at summer fairs.

“Hopefully if the mainstream world doesn’t suit him we have given him a skill that he could create his own work with and in turn help his mental health.”

George with his keyring creations

Amy started crafting in 2012 to help combat loneliness when Stuart was working away from home. It was something she found she had talent for, and enjoyed, and so Amy’s Emporium home and giftware company was born.

Last year Amy moved the company to a new work base at Westwood Industrial Estate and the large space means there is room to create a dedicated classroom area for Community Creative Studios alongside her emporium business.

She said: “There will be a designated classroom at the back (of the unit) to be used all year round.

“The idea is that after it has been going for a year I will also open a craft café for support groups to use. It has all been driven by George and is a mix of supporting mental health and helping people who want to access work.”

Amy also works in family services, has experience in admin and previously as a manager at H&M when the store was based at Westwood.

Amy’s workshop

She said: “Participating in a creative class can have an immediate impact, offering individuals a sense of achievement and providing them with new strategies for enhancing their mental well-being. The benefits extend far beyond the studio walls, potentially influencing various aspects of their lives in the long term.

“For those who aspire to turn their passion into a business venture, the effects can be life-changing.”

Amy has set up a fundraising page, which offers rewards for donations, to help with the initial costs of the classroom build. There will then be space for workbenches and machinery which can be hired to those looking for somewhere to start their own creative business ventures.

She also hopes businesses will come forward to help sponsor the project.

She said: “Hopefully it will help a lot of people. We are also making funding applications as we want to subsidise children’s activities in the holidays and have a range of support groups.”

Find the fundraiser at:

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