Thirteen supports Festival of Thrift as it moves to its new Billingham home

Visitors can pick up a wide range of thrifty creative skills for free at this year’s Festival of Thrift thanks to the backing of housing association Thirteen.

The North East housing group has joined forces with the hugely-popular annual celebration of sustainable living to support a free programme of workshops for festival-goers throughout the event taking place in Billingham in the Tees Valley on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 September.

Workshops will be popping-up across the festival with lots of hands-on tips and techniques for slow fashion, mending and repairing, growing and ecology, food and zero waste, natural household and beauty products, arts and crafts, and sustainable living techniques.

People can try their hand at Japanese-inspired visible mending techniques for clothing, make their own laundry power using kitchen cupboard ingredients, learn how to start their own seed library, make hanging plant pots from recycled materials or even have a go at using mycelium ‘mushroom plastic’ to make fungal moulds and sculptures. There will also be the chance to get creative juices flowing with some exciting artist-led workshops from botanical drawing, den-building and making radical protest banners.

Members of the Thirteen team will also be at the festival to showcase what the organisation is doing to reduce its negative impact on the environment, including a unique upcycling project reconditioning donated and once-loved furniture that is helping its most vulnerable customers as well as reducing, reusing and recycling waste.

Thirteen’s head of environmental sustainability Samantha Granger said that the group was proud to be supporting Festival of Thrift especially as its new Billingham location makes it more accessible to the communities that it supports. “We’re excited to form a new partnership that will see us working together with colleagues in our community resilience team, customer involvement and tenancy support to benefit our customers. 

“It’s a real team effort at Thirteen, connecting with the wider community and finding ways to support and bring people together. We’re passionate about projects and we listen to our customers’ needs and everything we do is for them, whether that’s about bringing communities together or giving them a little extra support. 

“Our furniture upcycling scheme has brought two key benefits – to not only help customers facing severe financial challenges with the ongoing cost of living rises to furnish their homes with clean, restored and attractive furniture, but also preventing hundreds of tonnes of unwanted furniture going to landfill. 

“We’re certain that our partnership with Festival of Thrift over the years ahead, and the projects we bring to life, will encourage the small changes that make a big difference to our planet.”

Festival of Thrift Executive Director Emma Whitenstall said: “Festival of Thrift’s legendary workshops offer lots of great thrifty hacks to save our resources and save us all money and this year, thanks to our new partnership with Thirteen, they are all free!

“Whether people drop-in or sign up in advance to learn a new skill or catch a demo, we are aiming to inspire community action to help save our planet whilst having lots of fun at the same time.” 

Emma added: “Our relationship with Thirteen goes beyond this year’s festival; however, we will be working together over the next three years to connect Thirteen residents to Thrift activity year-round to raise awareness of the climate emergency and the action everyone can take in their everyday lives to minimise their impact on the planet.”

Colleagues in Thirteen’s environmental and upcycling teams in the upcycling workshop in Billingham.. Image Byline: Dave Charnley Photography.

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