Warning for voluntary sector as craft hub closes

Significant Seams

Significant Seams, a community craft hub in Wood Street that has now closed

The team behind a community crafts hub recently forced to close have warned of a rise in “vulnerability” across Waltham Forest as sources of funding for the voluntary sector declines.

Significant Seams in Wood Street was a not-for-profit social enterprise established in 2013 that acted as a base for a number of local community projects and arts-and-crafts clubs, often aimed at vulnerable people, but announced last month that the space would close on 25th March.

A statement emailed to supporters said: “While saddened by this course of action, the context in which we and the amazing team of volunteers and staff work has become pressurised in untenable ways.

“We have from day one sought to build a profitable business that would re-invest its profits into supporting people in vulnerable life moments – ‘strengthening the seams of community’ – but changes in the policy and funding environment have catapulted unsustainable and unfunded numbers of people into vulnerability at a pace that our business growth has not kept pace with

“While we have sought partnership and collaborative working with key organisations, in reality the pace of change has left all of the partners ill-placed and vulnerable. Healthy partnership comes from healthy partners – and increasingly there is vulnerability across Waltham Forest’s services.”

Significant Seams rented its shop at 131 Wood Street from Waltham Forest Council, where it sold hand-sewn products, operated a book-lending scheme, ran courses, and hosted events. However, income from these activities was not enough to sustain the operation.

The statement continued: “In the last year in particular, where we have increased our trade income by more than 200 percent, we have also seen more ruptures in partner relationships – ruptures that are, sadly, transparently related to competition for ever-decreasing resources.

“Unfortunately, like we have heard from colleagues at other [voluntary] sector organisations across Waltham Forest, our grant funding successes have fallen.”

Talks are ongoing about continuing some of Significant Seam’s community work on an outreach basis.