Marcia’s Blog – Upcycling

Our staff are some of the most dedicated and innovative and are always looking for new ways to engage Service Users. Please read the blog below from Marcia, a Recovery Workers at HerStory House, our specialist high support female residential service for women with multiple and complex needs who have offended. Marcia used skills she learnt doing something she loves, to engage the women at HSH.

To keep myself occupied during the first lockdown, I decided to upcycle my old dining chairs.

I bought upholstery fabric and a staple gun to cover the seats. I then bought a second-hand table (£35) to go along with the chairs. I borrowed my brother’s electric sander even though I had never used a sander before, and quickly learnt which sandpaper to use and what stage I should change the grade of sandpaper. I then decided to upcycle an old bedside trunk a friend had given to me. Again, I bought upholstery fabric as well as sponge so that it would be comfortable to sit on. It became second nature to put on my goggles & gloves and spend hours in the garden sanding, undercoating, painting and varnishing.

I showed the women at HerStory House where I work, what I had achieved and asked if they would be interested in upcycling old furniture. They wanted to know how difficult it would be and when I explained how simple it was, they agreed that they would give it a try.

I spoke with the manager, who gave the go ahead to buy a bookcase for us to upcycle for the lounge. Fortunately for us, one day on the way to the shops, I saw that one of our neighbours had thrown out a bookcase. I managed to carry it back to the service with the help of a colleague. I discussed with the residents which colour they wanted to paint the bookcase – they wanted it to be multi coloured. We painted and varnished the bookcase and then decided to put flags on the side and middle. I printed the British, Bermudan, Irish and Jamaican flags, representing the countries of the woman at HSH.

The women requested information on different mental health conditions such as personality disorder, bipolar and schizophrenia to be placed on one of the shelves. Two of the women, who also have ADHD wanted information on that condition to be included too. Our clinical physiologist gave me the link to get the information I needed. The women then asked if another of the shelves could be an activity shelf, for things such as art & crafts.

Overall, the women at HSH enjoyed upcycling the bookcase. They all contributed to making it look amazing with their own ideas.

Unfortunately, these are difficult times, made harder by COVID-19. Upcycling and engaging in creativity has helped the women to deal with what is going on in the world. We look forward to doing more upcycling activities.