We asked Southampton residents if they would like to join The WEA Quilt of Hope project - meeting weekly to learn and share creative skills, build new friendships and connect with their community. Our aim was “ to work together  to create a beautiful textile wall hanging combining traditional stitching with exciting no-sew techniques to express our individual and shared hopes for the future,  connecting with each other as we talk, weave, thread and draw the separate pieces of the quilt together”. 

We welcomed participants from any background, culture and language, from complete beginners to those who bring a skill or enthusiasm for crafts such as embroidery, patchwork, quilting, painting, drawing, knitting, crochet, cross-stitch or dressmaking.    

56 people joined tutor Margarita for tasters sessions held in various locations in Southampton including Gods House Tower, The Mayflower studios and Parklife Café and we were able to connect with recently arrived Afghan refugees to share some embroidery techniques. In November,18 people joined one of two groups running back to back on Fridays, at the Clovelly Centre, working together to make one patchwork Quilt.

quilt of hope

The groups included beginners as well as people who were highly accomplished in various crafts and everyone shared their skills and learned from each other.  People came from all walks of life, ages and backgrounds but what everyone shared in common was the need to come together after the lockdowns, to get out of the house and feel part of the community, to find a sense of purpose that would help bring hope and to be creative.  

WEA tutor Margarita said how enriching and inspiring the course was for her as well as the students: “I learned so much, people brought wonderful skills and shared them – the quilt was pure collaboration. If people struggled with anything another helped them out –it was not always me as the tutor. Stories were heard – from Windrush,or of being a refugee or of finding life a struggle. People listened, asked questions - it was amazing that people who would never have met or connected through any other means because their lives were so different, came together for the quilt".  

"Asif, when he started was very afraid to make eye contact, but when he revealed his talent for embroidering butterflies and was praised by the others – he began to relax and now he even plays his flute for everyone".    

The beautiful stories behind the individual squares and messages of hope can be found in the QR codes that form part of the quilt.  

Want to try something new and explore your creative potential? click the button below to see our arts and crafts courses.

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About the author

Kay Field

Digital Marketing Officer

Kay is the Digital Marketing Officer at the WEA.