Local company helps women get back into employment with flexible working hours

A Shrewsbury-based company is helping women get back into employment with completely flexible working hours. Calluna Upcyling has just taken on eight sewers who can work however much they want, whenever they want.

Yvonne Beach and Heather Crowe

There are many reasons people find themselves out of work or unable to take on full-time or part-time hours – mostly because employers can’t (or won’t) offer flexible working.

People who need flexible working aren’t just parents trying to work around childcare issues, there are other reasons such as working with illness – physical and/or mental, working whilst also being a caregiver, getting back into work after a trauma perhaps a miscarriage or mental breakdown, struggling with menopause or fleeing domestic violence.

Calluna Upcycling was started by Heather Crowe during the Covid-19 pandemic. It takes in fabric from the event industry that would otherwise have gone to landfill and turns them into new products such as tote bags and handbags. Fabrics include stage wraps from COP26 and Shrewsbury’s town center flags and pedestrian barriers. 10% of all proceeds are donated to the Severn Hospice, registered charity number 512394.

Sewers visit the Calluna Hub in Battlefield to pick up everything they need to create products, obtain training, support or simply a cup of tea. From fabric to threads and even the loan of sewing machines everything is provided. With no minimum requirements, the sewers then return to the hub when it suits them with a batch of made-up products.

Calluna Upcycling have carefully monitored the average time it takes sewers to make each product to enable them to get paid a living wage.

One sewer said: “At the time I had been made redundant from my career, after returning from maternity, I was also leaving my abusive relationship with a newborn.” With no support network around and a pandemic lockdown my confidence hit rock bottom with my purpose in life. Calluna gave me a purpose again. It has grown my confidence in my abilities and as a person. The Calluna family inspires me and it fits around my health, my childcare and life in general. I found motivation again, creativity and purpose just for me, to create and produce products that people will use and cherish.”

Head of Upcycling, Yvonne Beach said: “It is incredible to see how all our sewers have grown in character since we first met them and to see them all making friends as well. They don’t just come in with products anymore, they come in full of energy and ideas and we love to see them getting involved in shaping the product line and future of the company. Heather Crowe, the company founder, should be incredibly proud of the mission she has started and how many other women she has helped – and she started it all when she too was struggling, she is a true inspiration.”

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