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When Beverly Pashley, with a lifelong passion for arts and crafts, realised Crowborough offered no local creativity clubs, she simply started her own!

Artytime has now grown into a successful community interest company bringing lots of fun and support to people of all ages and abilities through arts and crafts.

How did it all happen?

“It was created by accident,” said Beverly. “I was just a mum, with two kiddies, who knew the personal and educational value of arts and crafts. So I started a Saturday club – and it just grew!”

Now a multi-faceted project, Artytime not only offers creative workshops, family fun sessions, after-school/pre-school clubs and Arty-Parties, but they also train volunteers to run them.

Their intergenerational Young-at-Heart meet-and-mingle sessions also cleverly connect young and old; local families visit care-home residents and build friendships while enjoying Artytime activities together.

Additionally, the Artytime Scrap Store, again run by local volunteers, recycles unwanted items (mostly from local businesses) and repurposes them for community art and craft projects.

What do your volunteers get out of it?

“There are lots of people who want to do good in the world, but perhaps don’t know how,” said Beverly. “Our session leader programme recruits and trains volunteers to run our sessions and workshops, first of all with a mentor and then alone once ready. We also encourage our volunteer leaders to run their individual groups as ‘little businesses’, which empowers them and often creates real employment opportunities further down the line. Other volunteers simply enjoy the creativity, entertainment and social side of things.” Beverly added: “None of it would be possible without the help and support of all the volunteers. They believe in the projects and make them happen.”

What do you get out of it?

“A lot of hard work,” laughed Beverly, “but so much satisfation, too. Some of our volunteers now have teaching assistant diplomas and paid employment, while another has qualified in hand massage.” There’s no doubt that seeing Artytime’s workforce of volunteers blossom, grow and thrive must be hugely rewarding – and a huge inspiration for anyone else who might want to volunteer.

What next?

With Covid-19 having put a halt to socialising sessions and creating some uncertainty about the way forward, Beverly is now focussing on setting up a youth club project for 11-17 year olds. Thrilled to have won funding from Crowborough Town Council, the National Lottery and the Lawson fund via the Sussex Community Foundation, Beverly has a group of adult volunteers trained and ready to start – as soon as Covid-19 allows! Artytime Scrap Store will also continue and, if they are lucky enough to attract some older volunteers (without childcare needs, like many of their amazing younger volunteers) they can also open more frequently.

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