Hey Finsbury Park,

Recently, Naomi met Susana and Jenny at The Loop @ Andover – a community reuse hub in the heart of the Andover Estate – and spoke about about the benefits of having a reuse enterprise project in Finsbury Park. Below, Susana and Jenny speak about how the project has encouraged women to get more hands-on with DIY and using tools! As well as, how the project has opened up opportunities for the local community, like learning new skills and meeting new people, and its benefits on wellbeing.

The project came to an end of its current form earlier this year, but are offering workshops on furniture upcycling and upholstery, starting this Autumn.

#MyCreativeHub… SUSANA “I volunteered at the Loop @ Andover for over a year. My background is engineering, but I’ve always felt like an artist deep inside. I did some furniture restoration and upholstery in college and trained with an artist in Paris on lacquering furniture. During my stay in France, I also volunteered with people who did upcycling and upholstery for a living and that gave me a good flavour of what it means to work in that sector. Then I started to volunteer for The Loop, which started in October 2015 and I stayed with them until it finished last March.

The Loop @ Andover aimed to reduce fly-tipping by offering residents an onsite furniture collection service free of charge. The collected furniture would then be repaired or upcycled and sold at an affordable price to local residents. The project also offered workshops locally on upcycling, DIY and upholstery. These workshops gave residents the opportunity to meet new people, learn new skills and have some fun in the process. It also gave women participants the confidence to use manual and electric tools such as saws and sanders and not to be afraid of using them. There are mental health benefits for projects like this. I find upcycling and upholstery quite relaxing and therapeutic, and they provide a great opportunity to discover your creative self. That was the main reason to continue with the workshops, as well as providing individuals in the local community with skills that could help them entering the working market. And the environment benefits too as less furniture ends up in landfills.

It’s for people to come, participate and get creative. I love seeing the transformation in people – they go from doubtful to ‘oh its easy, it’s fun!’. Remember, everybody and anybody can be an artist! Sometimes people may think that art isn’t for everybody but furniture upcycling is!’’

#MyCreativeHub… JENNY  “I’ve been living on the estate here for about a year now. I met Rachel when she set up The Loop and got involved as a volunteer. What attracted me was that it was something different. I was new to the area and I thought it would be really nice to learn some new skills. So, I tried it and that was it – I was hooked! I’ve learnt a lot being here, like doing new things like recycling and upcycling. For me, knowing that you’ve worked on a piece furniture makes you appreciate it more than if you’d bought it – knowing that “I’ve done that” gives a deep sense of satisfaction. My role as a volunteer entails going around the estate looking for furniture that has been dumped, then collecting it for upcycling, then we sell it at a discounted rate to the residents. If somebody wanted to give their furniture, we’d go and collect it, make sure it’s safe, upholster and paint it and give it new life. It’s a lovely project.

It helps brings communities together, once we brought the Turkish, Kurdish and Cypriot Women’s Welfare group here and taught them how to sand down and paint walls and decoupage, which are generally known as men’s tasks.

In today’s society, not all people have much money. It’s great to have a project here on the estate that residents can buy something at a discounted price and have it delivered, or knowing that you can help somebody decorate and fill up their flat. There’s nothing worse than moving somewhere with absolutely nothing.

The skills that I learnt will always stay with me. I’m always keeping my eye out for things to take and use, to upholster and recycle as my mini, personal project in my home! If somebody wants to get involved, I’d tell them to come along and let them know anyone can get involved or volunteer.”

If you would like to get involved in the workshops please email Susana on: workshopsloopandover@gmail.com

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