Sewing the seeds of solidarity

Sewing circle in action

Sewing circle in action

In late January parishioners from Our Lady of Perpetual Succour church, Bulwell, Nottingham gathered alongside members of Bulwell URC, to hear Louise Cooke’s presentation on her trip to São Paulo in Brazil last November.  Her visit had been to strengthen the parish link, via CAFOD’s connect2 project, with focus communities in São Paulo.  The presentation ended with the sharing of a simple Brazilian supper consisting of a choice from pots of beans, rice and chorizo sausage. Young and old alike stayed to taste the flavours of Brazil, having heard the stories, seen the photos and felt the items brought back. This gave everyone an opportunity to share ideas informally and ask questions, having had a chance to ‘chew over’ the presentation.  

During the conversation, Jo Tucker, CAFOD contact and Chair of the Parish Justice and Peace group, came up with the idea of a creative craft project to raise money for the communities in São Paulo.  Volunteers in Borracea Welcome Centre had shown Louise how to create beautiful flowers from scraps of material. Louise had eplained how producing this flower with zero capability in sewing, had, for her, been one of the most challenging and also the most rewarding moments of the entire trip.

As a result of the relaxed sharing of ideas at the Brazilian supper, Thursday 28th February saw the birth of the ‘Solidarity Sewing Circle’ at Our Lady’s to create ‘Brooches for Brazil’.   Louise demonstrated how to make the flowers themselves and those who came along were soon under way sewing together their own version and putting backs on them to turn them into brooches. Several members of the group said they may make their own at home too, and Year 6 children at Our Lady’s Primary School may soon also be having a go! 

The brooches are made from throwaway material at almost zero cost to produce and will be sold at Easter as simple and sustainable gifts to raise both money and awareness for those struggling to live dignified lives in the favelas of Brazil. Everyone agreed it’s such an effective way to take a skill directly learnt in Brazil and put it to great use in the link community in the UK. Solidarity in action!

The initiative has had the enthusiastic backing of the Parish Priest. It provides one way in which parishioners can explore living lives which are more simple and sustainable and in solidarity with others,  as part of the parish  ‘Lenten Promise’ project.   All those who attended the ‘launch’ evening were excited to continue throughout Lent and beyond.  Marie Molloy, CAFOD Diocesan Manager, said she hoped the sewing circle might be the start of similar creative initiatives across the diocese to support CASFOD’s work.  If you have any ideas of how you and your friends could ‘Get Creative for CAFOD’ contact Marie on or Louise Cooke on

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