I belong to the Hampshire branch which is run by Tarryn Hunt, who as well as being a Mum, also runs Mum’s that Care and has published a beautiful book of quotes to support Mothers. Each month Tarryn has a 10min showcase at a networking meeting and nominates a member as Mummy of the Month – and the reason for this post, which you are now probably wondering about – is that I’ve been chosen for May. So I have been tasked with writing a bio, so this is my readers’ opportunity to get to know a little bit about me!
My name is Bev Newman, I live in Hampshire and am a single Mum to 1 daughter of 18, Lucy. Lucy has special needs but is making fantastic progress at college and on work placements and I’m really proud of her. She’s also great at going out and talking to people so is the “legs” of my marketing strategy, going out and delivering leaflets and posters here, there and everywhere. I’m physically disabled due to a spinal condition that causes chronic pain, muscle spasms and fatigue amongst other things, some of which are a bit too personal for a blog! I’ve always crafted and after taking medical retirement 5 years ago, found that crafting kept me same whilst I went through the processes of diagnosis, setting up care, fighting the school for support for Lucy and adapting to a very different lifestyle. Previously I’d worked full time, managed a small staff team and a large volunteer scheme and travelled extensively around Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and neighbouring counties. I trained people to pass their skills on to others, was part of NHS boards and goodness knows what else. Then one morning I tried to get out of bed – my back had been playing up for a while and the Drs were trying to get me seen by specialists – and found I could barely stand. Fortunately due to previous episodes I had some basic equipment to help, so I got a GP appointment and settled in for the 2 – 3 month standard recovery period to kick in! But this time it didn’t, I got worse instead of better, my feet stopped functioning and my Dad arrived on a train after 3 months and dragged me forcibly off to get an electric wheelchair – it was a huge shock! Having been a nurse I was there to make people better – and although I applied all I knew and all the hints and tips I could glean from others with a similar condition nothing worked. I was desperate to get back to work but with a sitting tolerance of 1 – 2 hours and not being able to drive I was well and truly stuffed, the Occ Health team at work and the DWP Dr duly agreed with each other and pensioned me off to a life on benefits.
I’d been brought up by grandparents and parents who had lived through the 30′s with no welfare state. Dad remembers his parents being told to sell their furniture and when they’d run out of that money there might be help! So I didn’t feel right about “lingering on them forever”. I started experimenting with making things to sell, did some reearch and opened a now slightly neglected shop on Folksy. I also did some knitting and crochet for a church group and picked up more tips and ideas. I also loved teaching and with no idea of what I wanted to teach went on an Adult teacher training course and passed. That gave me some confidence back that I could do stuff and be useful. It also helped me to realise that my disability was something I could easily work round. From there I did some free workshops as a volunteer for the Art House Southampton then picked up the odd paid workshop here and there. I also booked myself on a course aimed at those thinking of starting a business and got lots out of that.
In September I registered for tax and finally got into running some workshops in December for myself and soon realised that my mobility problems would not make it impossible to teach. But as well as loving knitting and crochet I also love to help others unlock their potential and I wanted to find a way to make that happen. And eventually the idea of a social enterprise was born. The aims of the company are a bit diverse but the ethos is to reach people who are socially isolated or experiencing a lack of confidence or huge change in circumstances and offer them some hope through learning a new skill and unleashing some creativity. Its amazing to see people who come along telling me they’ve been told they’ll never learn anything mastering the basics and asking to move on to the next challenge. I suppose its my chance to give something back for the support and encouragement I’ve had along the way and an opportunity to say to others – “Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t!”
I also love to work with community groups and help them with reaching out into the community and rebuilding links through events and opportunities to get people together. Through this I now work regularly with The Third Age Centre, Southampton. I’m also about to start some work with sheltered housing providers, running groups for older people and I’m really excited about the possibilities that might open up around memory and reminiscence. Meeting other crafters is also great as I’m now involved with a collaborative group, Inspire, Create, Celebrate. We’re looking to pass on our passion for handmade to Brides and organisers of all sorts of special events through running specialist workshops and events!
And for anyone reading who thinks this all sounds wonderful but…. yes there are low spots too – times when its really hard to keep going but writing reviews like this, working with others and having the opportunity to create are just fantastic. So if you are considering something like this, I would say do some homework and go for it!
To see Bev's blog click here.