Friday, 25 September 2015

Get Crafty For DAST

The craftivism movement seeks to spread important messages through the use of handicrafts and visual arts. Throughout the world, people are getting together to knit, sew and crochet their beliefs into something tangible that can be shared with others.

Derbyshire Asbestos Support Team are always seeking new ways to get the message across about asbestos and the damage that this still ubiquitous substance does to peoples’ lives. As we read about craftivism, it was immediately obvious that we could use this as a tool to share the stories of those that have unfortunately had to make use of our services.

Luckily, we have someone who is keen on sewing on the team!  Sarah spends her evenings hand stitching all kinds of little pieces for her home and her online sewing shop.  And she is happy to turn her hobby into something that might help raise awareness and give an outlet for people to share their feelings.

DAST’s craftivism project will be a patchwork of memories and messages.  Sarah is preparing some white fabric hexagons, which can be decorated.  These will then be sewn together to form an ever-increasing patchwork.  This will then be displayed at our events, and inbetween times hung on our office wall to inspire us!

William Bear with scissors at the ready
We want you all to get involved, but we realise that not everyone likes or is good at craftwork.  So, there are three ways for you to take part in the project:

1.   For those of you that would like to have a hexagon, but are not into craft, you can buy a hexagon for £5.  Sarah will then sew on a small fabric Reflection Rose and a set of initials.  Please be aware that if a lot of people want this then there might be a waiting list.
2.   For £2.50 you can buy a hexagon and decorate it yourself.  You can put whatever you want on there, and use whatever materials you like – cotton, fabric pens, sequins – whatever suits. Just take care to decorate it with a point to the top so that it will join to the other hexagons. Send it back to us when you are ready and it will be attached to the other hexagons in the patchwork.
3.   For those keen stitchers among you that would like to help, then Sarah would appreciate support in joining the hexagons together (or sewing on roses and initials if a waiting list develops).  If you don’t live near the office, then we can mail the work out to you. 

We will be officially launching this project at our conference in November – if you are coming along to see us in Derby, then come over to the fundraising stall for a chat about the project. However, it would be good to start the project with a couple of completed hexagons so that people can see what it will look like.  So if you want to be one of our craftivism pioneers, then send a cheque to the usual address for your hexagon.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Our New Projects

It’s been a while since we’ve blogged, so there are a couple of things to catch up on.

Firstly, our Lottery funded bereavement project is now underway.  We have recruited Jo Reeve to run the three year project.  Jo is currently busy planning the recording and monitoring processes. The Big Lottery Fund people are very stringent on how we report progress of the work and those taking part in it, so it is vital that this is planned meticulously. If we don’t give them the right information in our bi-annual reports, they will stop paying us! But Jo has also found time to make contact with people who are interested in being part of the project, and has already proved that she has a wonderful capacity to listen and guide.  Keep watching Facebook and Twitter for news of events.  We will be talking to people directly about the direction that the project will take at our conference in November – ahead of a major launch early in 2016.

For some time now, we have wanted to do something to raise awareness of the issue of asbestos in schools.  Our Asbestos in the Home project was so well received, we wondered if we could use this as a template for a school building project. Joanne researched the possibilities and found that we could do something similar.  This interactive tour would take you through two different types of school building – the system built school of the mid 20th century; and the Victorian school with 20th century alterations.  The tour could be saved onto usb stick and sent out to headteachers.   Sarah prepared a written funding proposal, and sent this out to the trade unions that represent people who work in schools. She also approached some other funders. We are still waiting for some responses, and we will also experiment with CrowdFunding later in the year.  However we can now report that thanks to support from three trade unions, there is enough in the pot to start work on producing the computer programmes and accompanying leaflets. The major supporter so far is Unite East Midlands – they have now made this project happen with their contribution of over £5,000.  The teaching union ATL and UCATT have also donated. When the computer programme is ready, we will be buying in a load of usb sticks so that anyone will be able to have a look – but we really hope that we can get this used in every staff room in the East Midlands. As usual, we will update you when we have news.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

We're in the Money!

At last! After a great deal of work, DAST have finally secured a grant from the Big Lottery Fund.  The people running the Lottery Fund are very careful about who they give their grants to, and they want to make sure that the money is well spent. Sarah’s work to prove that the project is needed has been going on for over 18 months.  Some of you may remember taking part in a survey about bereavement support back in 2013 – that was to help with this bid! Two Outline Proposals were rejected before we got through to the final stage of bidding.  Your support kept us going through this frustrating process – thank you all.

So, now we have got the grant – what are we going to do with it?  The £110,215 has all been earmarked to provide support to people who have been bereaved by asbestos. We will begin by recruiting a new worker to the team, and they will stay with us for three years to set up and launch the new support processes that will be put into place.  These will include:

·        A triage service when a bereavement is first reported.  The worker will compile a database of local sources of counselling and pass details on if required.  If a visit is needed to sort out benefit payments, or if the bereaved needs someone to accompany them to the inquest, then they will provide this service. They can also act as a listening ear if someone just needs to talk about their immediate concerns to a person outside of their family.
·        A befriending service.  We will be looking for volunteers who have experienced asbestos bereavement in the past to take part in this service.  This will probably involve a set number of telephone conversations at pre-arranged times, to help the newly bereaved to begin to work through their feelings.
·        A Friends and Relatives Forum.  This will enable friends and relatives of those affected by asbestos to get together and discuss issues important to them.  It will give people an opportunity to get involved in campaigning, and in steering the work of DAST in the future.  This will be a way for those who have been bereaved for a longer period of time to work for change and make a difference.

We will begin advertising for a worker very soon and we hope that the project will be able to properly launch in the summer.  Meanwhile, we will talking about the project at our event in Lincoln next month (see our previous post Caring for the Carers).

Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter pages for more information about the project as it progresses.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Be There!

Plans are now well under way for our Asbestos in the Home Derbyshire event.  This will be held at the Winding Wheel, Chesterfield on Wednesday 25th February.  There will be a launch at 2.00pm and another at 6.45pm.  Refreshments will be available from 1.15pm and 6.00pm respectively.  We have had several grants and donations towards this event from our usual supporters - such as trade unions and solicitors.  A full list of donors will be available at the event.  Thanks to everyone who has so far contributed - and if anyone else is interested in sponsoring the event please do get in touch with us (

All this work will be in vain though, if we do not get a good attendance on the day.  Do you know anyone who works in home improvements or DIY?  Do you know any plumbers, electricians or joiners? All those who work in schools should also be asbestos aware.  Tell anyone who might benefit to come along, have a cuppa with us and find out how to protect their health at work.  Do you know anyone who works for a Derbyshire housing association? Please help us to get the message about this event to their workers. Let's get Derbyshire talking asbestos!