An inside view of ReTweed

So you might be wondering “What’s it really like at ReTweed?

Here Hazel (Founder and Director), Dean (Finance Officer), Alyson (Trainer), Jill (Trainer), Emily (Volunteer Support Worker) and Rachel (Marketing and Communications Officer) from the ReTweed staff team share what’s it’s like behind the scenes.

Alyson and Jill at the Orla Kiely exhibition.

How would you describe working at ReTweed in 3 words?

E: Fun, inspiring and enjoyable

H: A privilege (one word), life-affirming (again one word!) and energising

R: Inspiring, meaningful and supportive

D: Challenging, Supportive and Family

J: Inspiring, life-changing and thought-provoking

Rachel and Hazel following a meeting at The Scottish Parliament.

What’s the best bit about your job?

R: Now I’m not really a people person, but for this, it has to be the people I meet! Already, I’ve met so many incredible people. Other members of staff who have become role models, not just at work but for life in general. The women who attend the Textiles Training Programme come from diverse backgrounds and having the opportunity to see how much ReTweed benefits them makes every aspect of my job worthwhile. And, all the people from other organisations who believe in what we’re doing at ReTweed and can never do enough to support us. I’ve not worked anywhere else that’s fostered such a broad feeling of positivity.

D: Knowing that I am playing my part, a key role in supporting the work of ReTweed and seeing the achievements of all who join the ‘ReTweed family’ may it be for a short time or a bit longer. On a less serious job matter, making Hazel laugh with my geeky mannerisms.

E: Working at ReTweed has helped me find myself again, it’s a joy working towards goals where we get to help make the world better every day!

J: The women I’ve met. Students, volunteers and co-workers, they’re all amazing and have enriched my life.

H: Watching people grow in self-belief, confidence and ability. The humans associated with ReTweed are inspirational and I learn something new every day.

Alyson and two volunteers at our Eyemouth workshop.

What challenge do you enjoy the most about your job?

H: It might sound a bit weird but some of the crises we’ve had – have then resulted in some of the greatest opportunities. We’ve cultivated an environment where people feel hope, belonging, purpose and aspiration for themselves and I really enjoy that aspect of what we do.

J: Trying to find the project that unlocks the door to a more beautiful world through creativity for each student. Seeing how the students progress throughout their time at ReTweed both personally and creatively is both humbling and inspiring.

R: Thanks to being a relatively small (but growing) team, everyone has to get stuck in and do their best. Sometimes this means needing to figure out a new task by myself rather than being taught by someone else, but I love the sense of satisfaction when I’ve surprised myself doing something I hadn’t realised I could and it’s making me more confident.

D: In an odd way LEADER – one of our main funders. We are currently part way through our second project and grant – we have certainly had our challenges whether it be the finer details or some of the issues that have been presented during our journey so far it has certainly kept us on our toes

E: The challenges for me can be trying to figure out on the spot how to best handle a difficult emotional situation that someone, bravely, might share in the group.  I try to find a way to truly hear what someone has experienced, and find a way to make them feel loved, comforted and listened to, help the group feel involved in supporting them where appropriate, and then be able to keep the group going for the rest of the session so we are productive and supportive.

Hazel and a volunteer at our stall at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations gathering in the SECC.

How has your job at ReTweed helped you to develop or gain additional skills?

E: Working at ReTweed has given me a sense of who I am again. It’s a sheer delight to be creative and enterprising within a caring environment as these have been life-long interests that I had lost confidence in.

D: My job at ReTweed has supported me in the development of professional financial skills and management putting these into practice. Over the two years I have been with ReTweed it has given me great insight into the challenges and pitfalls that a grassroots/new start-up enterprise/charity encounters from the ground up in a rural community such as Eyemouth. Flexibility and adaptability are continuously being developed but also challenged as ReTweed diversifies to meet the needs of our community.

H: It has strengthened my professional and personal resilience. After years of working predominantly in an urban context, I’ve had three intensive years in a rural community and I have learned SO MUCH about the very specific challenges faced by rural communities around isolation and lack of opportunity. I’ve had to learn to be more flexible in both my thoughts and my actions to make sure what we are providing really does meet the needs of our community.

J: I’ve learned so much about the world and myself since I’ve been a part of ReTweed it would take me too long to tell you! Working with such kind and talented women has helped me gain a sense of self-belief which has enabled me to go from being a volunteer with the students to being their trainer. I’d never have imagined I’d ever have the confidence or opportunity to do something like this but ReTweed has given me just that!

R: Seeing how ReTweed has been set up and developed over time has given me a better understanding of how to make the business start-up process successful. Through external training, I’ve also gained new skills in areas like Instagram marketing and website analytics which will be invaluable when setting up my own business.

Ado fixing one of our sewing machines.

Do you have any anecdotes from your time working at ReTweed which you’d like to share?

J: I don’t really have any anecdotes but would like to thank everyone I’ve met while I’ve been a part of ReTweed, every one of you has helped and inspired me in some way.

D: Over the years I have been at ReTweed it is great to feel more welcomed by our course participants, although I have always been made welcome, due to my role, interactions are rather limited in a work capacity. I am only based in the office one day a week so as the only male member of staff at ReTweed I often sense that I must appear quite mysterious to those that join us as I appear and disappear whilst carrying out my roles.

E: I love the sense of community, and a great example is when Ado the Turkish Barber from a few doors down has come in to help fix a machine or use a machine quickly. It’s lovely to have the sense of community where people pop in, both with donations, to buy gifts, with commissions, needing a little button or to sign up to one of our weekend courses! We just really enjoy interacting with everyone and sharing the message of ReTweed!

H: It feels like a good time at ReTweed – after 3 years or so of a permanent state of challenge in social enterprise start-up, it feels like the organisation is being reborn. We have new team – a fantastic team and we all seem to be ‘on purpose’ in our roles. I feel the same vitality for our work as I did in the first year or so and it so good to share that with others.

In conclusion …

Alyson summed up what we all believe in “The best thing about being here is that I get to share my skills with other people and I get a real kick out of seeing them interpret what I teach them in their own work – one of the greatest gifts you can share is your creative ideas or experience with others – after all I wouldn’t have what I have if someone hadn’t shared their knowledge and experience with me.”

So there you have it! Now you know what it’s really like at ReTweed.


This blog post was written by Rachel Parker – ReTweed Marketing and Communications Officer

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