Social Enterprise and sewing

Sewing and Social Enterprise: How does it work?


When we say that Handmade Alliance is a social enterprise which reduces reoffending rates by working with prisoners and ex-prisoners many people are often surprised – is sewing an obvious way to do this?

THE ANSWER is that while it may not be very obvious, it is very effective. Across the UK and particularly in London there is a shortage of skilled sewing machinists and hand sewers needed by designers, and a lack of employment opportunities for ex-prisoners.

FOR DESIGNERS  wanting small-batch production either because they are starting out (overseas production only makes sense at scale) or they want a one-off high-quality range our workshop in Kings Cross, London provides a space where they can come into the workshop and speak directly with our team of seamstresses and seamsters.

TRAINING AND EDUCATION are often cited as crucial factors in successful rehabilitation but given the difficulties of finding employment as an ex-prisoner even more crucial is the ability to find gainful employment, with the stability and self-respect that this brings. By working as a social enterprise which provides training and qualifications in sewing skills, we offer a launch pad for ex-prisoners to escape the all too frequent cycle of reoffending.

EX-PRISONERS working with designers to meet their sewing needs is a perfect match of answering a market opportunity with a ethical answer that betters society as a whole: a central part of what it is to be a social enterprise.

Sewing and Social Enterprise: the perfect fit for rehabilitating prisoners?


2 replies
  1. Sewing Sarah
    Sewing Sarah says:

    What a fascinating idea. Is the “Made in Britain” brand an important aspect for designers? It seems so popular at the moment but as a “sitting-room sewer” (cushions are my thing) I had not really thought about scaling up. I really like the idea of being able to speak to the guys and girls who are actually making the orders, it makes the idea of trusting someone else with you designs much more appealing. Good luck!

    • admin
      admin says:

      Hi Sarah, thanks for the comment. Yes the “Made in Britain” concept is certainly attractive to our clients. They are really interested in both our ability to offer ‘local’ production and the huge benefits that the work provides ex-offenders – but also the benefits that come with it (which are maybe less obvious). As you pointed out this is the ability for designers to talk directly with the makers, but it is also the ability to offer very quick turn around times when needed, and also to assist in the early stage design process when needed – all things that simply cannot be offered effectively from afar.


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