Festival of Thrift organisers are helping communities in Redcar and Cleveland and the wider North East to join forces to spread the joy beyond the hugely popular festival’s weekend celebration of sustainable living in September.

Two new Community Managers have been appointed by the Redcar-based company behind the annual event, Festival of Thrift CIC, to identify and create a programme of activities and support people to get involved and share their skills all year round.

The new members of the festival team, Rachel Laycock and Emma Wheetman, will be based at the festival’s new base in the heart of Redcar at the Palace Hub, as the team takes the next steps in rooting thriftfest firmly in the area and developing its year round delivery.

They have already started working with local community groups, on a UK-wide project called The People’s Podium.

A playful twist on the government lectern used in coronavirus briefings that is designed to let everyday people to have their say, residents of Redcar & Cleveland were invited to take to the podium to voice their views.

Emma and Rachel worked in collaboration with Glimpse, the creative collective behind the project, to coordinate volunteers from across the borough who were coached to deliver speeches they had written about their hopes for the future.

Rachel said that it was great to be able to hit the ground running with the project. “It was so good to be a part of the process,” she adds, “and wonderful to see how much confidence it gave the people involved and the pleasure they got from the skills they learned. The speeches that were recorded were fantastic.”

The People’s Podium was an online project and Rachel and Emma are now developing Festival of Thrift’s Young People’s Podium which, when restrictions allow, will be a physical presence, where teenagers can air their views.

Subject to fundraising, future community projects in the pipeline involve dance, building sustainable structures and developing skills in fixing, making and growing.

Emma and Rachel have worked together since 2014 when they set up BloomInArt, a community arts organisation that brings people together to engage with creativity and cultural events.

The Hartlepool-based duo wanted to put their backgrounds to good use and share their passion for creativity and arts – Rachel is a glass artist and Emma is a textiles maker with a background in education.

As BloomInArt they were part of Festival of Thrift in 2017 and 2018 providing activities at the event linked to the Arts Award qualification to encourage young people to discover their inner artist.

Emma said they are both very excited to also now be part of Festival of Thrift’s team, and adds, “It’s amazing for us and we are very proud and privileged to have been given this role. We are very excited about working more with communities in Redcar & Cleveland and the wider region, being on the ground listening to people and supporting and encouraging them to share their ideas and get involved.”

Stella Hall, Festival of Thrift’s Creative Director, says, “Festival of Thrift is proud to be able to connect more closely with local residents, listening to their needs and in turn connecting them with communities from farther afield to build our sustainable future together.”

Community groups that would like to get more involved in the festival can contact Emma and Rachel at community@festivalofthrift.co.uk  

Festival of Thrift’s annual weekend celebration of sustainable living is scheduled to take place at Kirkleatham, Redcar on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th September 2021.



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