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Christmas market success brings boost for future entrepreneurs.

The makers project pilot in 2022 was such a success that it has formed part of our curriculum intent for the 2022/2023 academic year. It’s gone from strength to strength – with a successful Christmas themed course culminating in Christmas markets where selling their products raised over £500 for local charities!

Since Covid we had struggled to engage new learners – particularly those who were unemployed. Following the opening of our community cafes, we took a fresh look at how we approach our employability delivery and tried to focus on fresh new ways of inspiring people to aim high and develop practical skills and qualifications to support their future development.  Our maker’s project develops start-up enterprise ideas – focusing on how to turn peoples craft interests and skills into a business idea. Learners develop skills around business and selling alongside honing their craft skills to create products to sell in our community cafes.

During the autumn term courses ran over 4-6 weeks to help almost 40 learners develop skills in things like lino printing, weaving, pottery and clay making, sewing and fabrics. This resulted in a wide selection of crafty items to sell at our Christmas markets. And the standard competed with the artisan craft fayres! These sessions helped develop wider skills around confidence, patience, listening, focus, attention to detail and broke down anxiety, concerns and how to work as a team. Many learners then developed skills to sell – preparing for the markets, learning about pricing, advertising and setting up the stalls on the day.

Markets were held in the week before Christmas at all our café spaces in Gainsborough, Market Rasen and Mablethorpe. They focused on raising funds for local charities within their communities. We made them into wider Christmas events, selling cakes and coffees in the cafes served by our young people on our Flare programme, and having craft stalls to ‘try crafting’ with the hope to generate interest for our next course. Attendees included the public, other learners, local businesses and in Gainsborough, Chris Young brought along her clients from Hastings Day Centre where they got involved in making simple crafts on the day to take away.

Tracy, an attendee at the market commented, “I loved getting involved at the stalls, crafting is so helpful for my own mental wellness – and pompom making is so therapeutic!”, and other attendees commented on how impressed they were with the range of gift items – at such great prices too!

The events raised £250, and was match funded by our wider group company, Acis Group, for different local charities:

  • Gainsborough split their donation between mental health charity Bearded Fisherman and Dine at the Bridge, which offers lunch and company for isolated people.
  • Mablethorpe’s funds will help provide activities for their Healthy Minds Group, and
  • Market Rasen supported Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance.

Almost 40 learners attended these courses across our centres, and their feedback following the course showed we hit the mark! Alison, 73, said the course was ‘productive and challenging’ and that she enjoyed connecting with the other learners as she doesn’t normally get to have that much social contact. Others said:

‘Gave me the confidence to try printing and using different mediums.  Learnt how to prepare art professionally and get ready for selling.’

‘Loved seeing how the work is transformed by finishing the process, pricing, packaging and getting ready to sell the items.’

‘I have learnt a range of new craft techniques from fabrics, such as origami bags, and we were also able to work as a team when getting ready for selling the items. Really interesting course.’

The majority of learners have gone onto attend other courses with us during this term, including 60% of those who focused on lino cut skills initially progressing onto block print and fabrics to develop their skills further.

Plans are underway for our Easter themed courses. And we’re looking to develop our curriculum further to include digital skills (e-commerce selling), link to our multiply delivery to develop a routeway to maths qualifications, and wider self-employment course delivery.

If any provider is interested to learn more, please do get in touch with us at Makers project is delivered by Community Learning in Partnership (CLIP) and is funded by

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