There’s so much going on at Emmaus Bolton. It’s a place that accepts people for who they are and helps them get back into the world, but it’s also a social supermarket for Bolton, a garden centre, café and place selling secondhand and new goods and furniture. And when I saw the workshop making wooden furniture on site, I really wanted to have a go!

I was a bit apprehensive about going on Sewing Bee at first as it is quite a big show, but it was a great experience and I’m glad I did it as it has given me the opportunity to raise awareness about places like Emmaus Bolton. I’ve kept calling into Derby Barracks ever since first visiting the charity. I went to get some fabric for a shirt I’m making out of recycled strips.

Start sewing through the Scrap Store

I’ve been sewing since October 2017 when I got my first machine and never looked back. It’s great being able to alter and sew your own clothes out of whatever fabrics you choose. Hopefully I will inspire some people who live at the charity to start sewing too as it is a fantastic life skill to have.

Emmaus Bolton is teaching people within the community and giving them a new way of living. They accept people for who they are and respect their privacy. People can come to this community where they can get trained and get help to get back out into the world.

Emmaus Bolton is a fantastic community where everyone lives and works together and there is also a great sense of teamwork there and it is a place where new friendships are formed. When filming the Sewing Bee during lockdown, the other contestants and I were living in our own little community (in a bubble) and we became great friends and all stay in touch on a regular basis.

People I sew outfits for…

I was happy donating the denim dress to Emmaus Bolton that I made during Recycling Week of the show. I want the items I made on the Sewing Bee to be used rather than just sitting in a box in my loft. I’ve altered the lumberjack shirt I made during Week 7 so it fits me, my partner is wearing a couple of items and I’ve even given some other stuff to my mates to wear too.

Before going on Sewing Bee I bought secondhand clothes and altered them to fit. I didn’t even think of deconstructing clothes and making something practical to wear. What Emmaus Bolton does is great because volunteers at the Recycling Centre are reusing old clothes people don’t want any more to sell on as fabric.

Shop secondhand for zero-waste

I got a few items of material, buttons and thread from the Scrap Store to show that you can make something good from recycled material. You could say, I’ve learned a lot from being on the show, like lots of different techniques and how to put things together and make them aesthetically pleasing.

Photo highlights

CEO Tony Stephension, BBC One contestant Damien and Lecturer in Costume Design Rebecca Coleman, who taught volunteers, outside our Recycling Centre
The denim dress Damien made during Recycling Week on The Great British Sewing Bee is on display in the Scrap Store
Damien is at home among our rolls of donated fabric and thread, recycled packaged quarters, and buttons, zippers and fastenings available for reuse