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New sewing machine for Fishermead is 'sew' useful

A project to help homeless people develop their practical and creative skills has been launched with the donation of a sewing machine to a hostel in Milton Keynes by one of the UK’s largest independent heating contractors. 

Swale Heating, better known for installing boilers and central heating systems, will eventually donate a number of new machines to supported living hostels run by Orbit Heart of England. 

It is an innovative project that empowers Orbit customers to acquire basic skills by learning how to make simple repairs to clothes. It also gives them the opportunity to be creative by learning to make their own clothes.

Swale Heating’s Sales Director, Matthew Edwards, believes that being self-sufficient is part of what helps people turn their lives around.

“The work carried out by Orbit Independent Living is extraordinary in supporting people of all ages and from all backgrounds to regain their independence. Part of that is encouraging them to develop skills and increase their confidence.

“Swale Heating’s award-winning community work is very varied. The machines will help customers save money by being able to repair their clothes but it would be great if some wanted to take it further and develop their creative skills as well.”

Rebecca Davies, Area Manager for Orbit Independent Living, agrees. She says; “It’s all about enabling our customers to develop new skills and integrate in the community. Once they start using the machines and increasing their skill level, it may even lead to a future career opportunity.”

Swale Heating customer liaison officer, Michael Reeder and apprentice, Sarah Jane, delivered the first Victoria sewing machine to Fishermead Hostel in Mullion Place, Milton Keynes on Wednesday. Others will be delivered over the next few weeks, including one to Springfield House, a mother and baby unit in Milton Keynes and Cambridge Street, a homeless hostel also in Milton Keynes.

Fishermead Hostel provides accommodation and support for homeless people to help them regain their independence. Orbit provides support that may include learning independent living skills, accessing education and training and developing self-esteem. Communal areas at Fishermead have computer facilities, a tv lounge, reading area, kitchens and cooking facilities, laundry facilities – and now a new sewing machine.

 Pictured (left to right) are Orbit customer, Andrew Harrison, Swale apprentice, Sarah Jane and Swale customer liaison officer, Michael Reeder.