Steel River Crafts

Rose Education Foundation Supported Project in Middlesbrough

The Rose Education Foundation is really pleased to support the Steel River Crafts project, which works with young people and adults. Members are based all around though because they joined online they range from different parts of Teesside, eg Middlesbrough, Eston, Stockton and Guisborough. Funding from the Rose Education Foundation helped the Steel River Crafts project to buy essential equipment and materials. Please read in their own words below how the Rose Foundation has helped them over 2021 so far.

Since Rose Education Foundation chose to fund our project, Steel River Crafts, at the end of January 2021, we have been very grateful for the financial support and enjoyed many successes, as a result, which are detailed here. Funding has helped us to support and grow online learning groups. During the height of the pandemic, I was inspired to set up some online learning groups. An adult and children’s ‘Mindful Doodling’ group had been started on a pay as you feel basis.

The mindful doodling techniques are unique in that they don’t require specific artistic skills, so there is a chance to switch off the pressure and relax and enjoy making patterns, which then make up a pleasing art piece, most of the time.

When we were given funding, I was able to offer bursaries for people who couldn’t afford to chip in and provide materials for free or at a reduced cost. I delivered therapeutic art packs to people during lockdown. The groups continue to grow in numbers and in strength and depth. Friendships are being formed and members often share success stories of how the sessions are helping them.

March – I was honoured to be asked to run the mindful doodling sessions for the staff team of ASIC and shared the practice with everyone there. Attendance = 13 adults.

Plans for a communal art installation went ahead. We advertised a Post It Note Gallery and asked members to doodle on a post it notes and send these to us, and we began putting this together.

April – I was heavily involved with preparing for opening of The Exchange, our town centre community unit. I led our health and safety practices and prepared us for opening as a covid safe venue. I initiated first aid guidelines as well and am currently refreshing on my own training.

May – Sessions began in The Exchange. Due to restrictions still in place, these sessions began after 17-05-21 and involved encouraging members of the public to doodle art on a post it notes and add it to our growing post it notes gallery display.

I also ran a Mindful Doodling staff training session in XXX school, who now use this method with their children once a week to boost mental health. Attendance = 50 staff.

I also ran a session as part of an online women’s retreat day, in collaboration with Anna Knight, a life coach who runs an online support group that I am part of. 8 adults attended this.

June – There was a pause in face-to-face delivery as the Exchange was asked to move venue as it was on a meanwhile lease. This was a disappointing setback, but the move went well.

In this break, I am focussed on planning and preparing for face-to-face summer sessions, ‘Art in the Alley’ a cross over project with ‘Urban Rebirth’ where we will bring families together to do art within our alley greening setting. Also, I am looking forward to inviting family groups to sessions, in the new Exchange unit in the town centre once a week during the holidays and will collaborate with ‘Boro Bricks’ offering mindful, and engineering focussed Lego building sessions alongside calm crafts.

I am also collaborating with Bloomin Art and The Auxiliary to find community venues to deliver art sessions in an open-air venue over the summer.

Member background:

Adult members who regularly benefit from the group really value the sessions’ therapeutic aspect as they identify as having disabilities and/or mental health problems or have faced trauma and found themselves isolated and unable to go out temporarily due to the pandemic, or long term due to their medical needs.

Amongst the children’s group, reasons for joining were to improve anxiety whilst schools were closed, and to be able to connect with other children, teachers and make and maintain friendships during lockdown.

I appreciated the chance to switch my mind off and a safe space to share what you feel are mistakes.

Feedback from a participant


 A chance to embrace imperfections.

Feedback from a participant

The Steel River Crafts project continues to grow and we can not wait to hear more of the wonderful work they do in the community this year. To visit their page please click the button below. 

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