Founder warns that survival of key services depends on next few months ‘Life changing’ charity in crisis
Hand-up that led to own businesss
firstname.lastname@example.org A charity chief has warned that her organisation is struggling to keep offering some services, due to a lack of funding.
Besty Aidinyantz is the founder of Joining Hands, based at the Community Craft Centre and IT workshop in Ashford’s lower High Street.
Since 2009, volunteers have trained more than 400 people in practical skills ranging from fixing computers to creating soft furnishings and fashion accessories. Articles made or mended by the volunteers are then sold in the centre’s shop.
The charity estimates that 90% went of its beneficiaries proceed to paid employment, further education or voluntary work.
It has secured funding in the long term, but Ms Aidinyantz says the coming months could make or break it.
“‘My success here is not measured by how much money we have made,” she added. “It’s measured by how many people we have helped.
“We are about empowering people, motivating and supporting them to become self-sufficient.
“I think our work is very important, because people come out of here and they come off benefits. They smile, they are happy, and hopefully their life is changed for the better.
“People can help us in a whole host of ways, whether by a cash donation, giving us fabrics and craft supplies, buying our products, or taking part in our workshops.
“I would just urge people to come into the shop and meet us.”
To find out more, visit www. joininghandskent.co.uk
Joining Hands is organising Ashford festival, the borough’s first ever arts and technology festival, taking place in September.
A fundraising evening was held last Friday, attended by the mayor and mayoress of Ashford councillor David Smith and his wife, Christine Kathawick-Smith, at the London Beach Hotel in Tenterden.
For a profile of the festival, see the What’s On section of next week’s Kentish Express. Keighley Cook started going to Joining Hands in March 2011 to attend a sewing workshop as she wanted to learn a new skill to start her own business.
She started by attending a weekly workshop, and gained an NVQ in textiles.
The course also helped improve her confidence in public speaking and communicating with others.
By 2012, she was so proficient that Betsy had employed her to run a sewing workshop.
Soon after, Keighley had the confidence to start her own business, making and selling handmade cushions.
She has finished her level 2 NVQ in textiles, and is working for a further education teaching qualification.
Keighley said: “In a million years I never imagined myself as someone who could sew, and now I’m self-employed.
“I’m also part of a team making and selling high-quality clothes and accessories on the high street and at competitive prices.
“I’m glad that I took the first steps, and my confidence has kept on growing ever since.”
Betsy Aidinyantz and Ashford mayoress and mayor Christine Kathawick-Smith and David Smith