If you know Burnley town centre at all, you’ve probably walked up and down Red Lion Street numerous times. But there’s something of a hidden gem here that moved from Nicholas Street just before the March 2020 lockdown and has been there ever since.
Transform Crafts, across from the bus station, provides arts and crafts sessions, as well as a shop stocking a huge range of supplies. And whilst this is an integral part of what it provides, Transform Crafts is so much more than that.
Burnley.co.uk spoke with its co-director Kaye Mather, who told us how the Community Interest Company (CIC: part charity, part business) started out.
“I’d worked in retail for many years, including managerial and training roles. I was made redundant back in 2010 and began to struggle with my mental health. Whilst under the care of my GP I was referred to Lancashire Women’s Centre on Nicholas Street.
“Whilst I was recovering, I was asked if I would run a project which provided arts and crafts sessions for women, primarily to help them learn skills to get off benefits, but also to assist with mental health and wellbeing. I ended up doing that for four years and it turned into a real passion and vocation for me,” Kaye explained.
One of the volunteers who joined the project was Timeja, a qualified art teacher from Latvia. Together, the women established Transform Crafts Community Interest Company in 2017 and opened their sessions to everybody, not just those at the centre or who had wellbeing issues.
“We want the community to know that we’re here for them. If you’ve been stuck at home for a year, come and visit us, everyone is really friendly and welcoming. We have a mix of people. There are some people here who cannot work due to various issues, and they may face stigma attached to that. Some have found their mental health to have especially suffered over the past year. Others simply want to learn a new skill. We also have college students do sessions with us to enhance their course. Check out what we have available on our Facebook and Instagram pages and if there’s an activity you want to do that we don’t offer, drop us a message – we can pretty much arrange any arts and crafts,” Kaye added.
The premises is completely accessible and based on the ground floor, with disabled toilets and a kitchen. The atmosphere is calm and inclusive, filled with laughter in a supportive environment. Kaye is proud of the fact that people who attend Transform Crafts become part of a community and often get a new lease of life.
With many of us still working from home or getting used to being back at work, Kaye is keen for businesses to get in touch who may want to offer relaxed and fun corporate days for their team. From watercolours and card making to decoupage and inks and stamping, there’s something for everyone.
So next time you’re in the town centre, why not pop in for a browse around the shop or to book on to a class?