Making a new start, hoping for a better life – two of the core opportunities many people impacted by prostitution and/or human trafficking dream of. And that means in Austria too! Now, thanks to the “Say NO to Modern Slavery” crowdfunding project, you can actively support the group HOPE FOR THE FUTURE as it expands its range of different workshops. And by so doing, you can give those impacted an entirely new perspective on their life.
The group HOPE FOR THE FUTURE enables this new start with its programmes. These are designed to prepare participants to return to the world of work and enable them to cope with a stabler, regularised everyday life. In this way, women escaping from forced prostitution can be helped to restart their career – in conditions of freedom and dignity. One of the workshops on the group’s programme is the group’s sewing workshop, which is to be expanded further. To do this, a crowdfunding campaign is also currently underway, because a donation of 5,500 euros making it possible for one more workshop day to be financed in the coming year. This article makes it possible for you to read about what makes the sewing workshop quite so valuable to those affected.
WHO ARE HOPE FOR THE FUTURE WORKSHOPS AIMING TO REACH?
The diverse range of offers for victims of prostitution and human trafficking includes German courses, as well as training in how to submit applications and the work itself. This is designed to lay the foundations for participants to restart their career. Because integrating those impacted back into work can often become very difficult and challenging. Without training, it’s almost impossible to return to the world of work – one reason why many of those affected have to struggle with traumatic experiences as well as develop a new existence. In the course of the workshops, participants pick up skills they will require to re-enter the job market. The sewing workshop is one part of this programme.
WHAT MAKES THE SEWING WORKSHOP SPECIAL?
The sewing workshop doesn’t focus on training participants to be tailors. Instead, it is more about imparting soft skills, which the participants can pick up. Fashion designer Malihe has been working as a sewing trainer for HOPE FOR THE FUTURE since 2017. With a great deal of patience and sensitivity, she guides the participants as they produce bags and other work items.
In reality, however, the course is about so much more than working with textiles: for the trainees, it’s about developing a feeling for structured work processes and modes of behaviour in a regulated workplace. When is it time to work? When is it time to take a break? When am I allowed to have a chat? This creates a basis on which these people can be successfully integrated into work.
Step by step, the trainees learn new things, and are able to develop lost trust in their trainers. This is often far from easy, since participants will have had negative experiences. The special thing about the sewing workshop is that trainees themselves learn that they can achieve something genuinely useful. Once finished, the piece they have created then stands as a symbol of their having achieved their aims.
DO PARTICIPANTS NEED EXISTING SKILLS TO TAKE PART?
Sewing workshops at HOPE FOR THE FUTURE are designed to be very low-threshold, so people can participate without the need for any prior skills. Trainees begin with simple items, then gradually hone their skills until they can cope with complex and creative pieces of work.
MALIHE EXPLAINS WHAT A WORKING DAY AT A SEWING WORKSHOP WILL LOOK LIKE
“My working day actually begins at 9.00 am. I’m always there a bit earlier, though, as most of the participants are already waiting to get started. We will all greet one another, and have a cup of coffee or tea together before getting everything ready. Machines such as sewing machines and irons are switched on, and those who have been there a bit longer will know what to do already,” Malihe says, going on to explain how the workshop participants learn, step by step: “First of all, beginners get to know the sewing machines, and how to handle them. They then try their hand working on pieces of fabric. They will then try sewing on a logo, and sewing in a straight line. This requires a great deal of practice, and everything happens step-by-step. This is then followed by producing simple items – sewing bags and cosmetics bags with a zip fastener, for instance. Slowly, step-by-step, participants gradually go on to learn how to produce more difficult pieces, until most can work independently after about three to four months.”
“I keep a list of attendants. If someone doesn’t come along, then I’ll call that person and ask them how they are. Alternatively, they may be having problems preventing them from attending the sewing workshop. I look after three groups a day – back-to-back, once every two hours. The workshops have a very familial atmosphere, as problems are discussed and we can find solutions. In the best case, the participants find solutions to their problems themselves as time goes by, and are able to take control over the changes in their lives. By talking, I look after the people here who want to begin a new life. My aim is to create a pleasant, welcoming atmosphere, not just to show participants but also how to sew pieces perfectly. Often, participants will think about their errors in the past, and how they can change these to find a new path,” Malihe explains.
For further details of the sewing workshop, click here: https://www.hopeforthefuture.at/de/der-naeh-workshop-bei-hope-for-the-future-ein-ankerplatz-fuer-die-trainees/
WHAT DO TRAINEES AT THE WORKSHOP LEARN?
While sewing, trainees are not merely able to develop self-esteem and strengthen their social skills; they also learn to be patient, punctual and reliable. A number of other building blocks in the workshop programme are also important in complementing the work done at the sewing workshop. To find out more immediately, click here (https://www.hopeforthefuture.at/de/angebote-fur-betroffene/)
HOW LONG DOES PARTICIPATING IN A WORKSHOP LAST?
“Participating in a sewing workshop lasts at least 6 months, and a maximum of 2 years. In individual cases, of course, people may attend for longer than two years. It can take a little longer, particularly if clients are switching onto a work programme in Lower Austria – due not least to the Covid situation,” notes Andrea Staudenherz, Chairwoman of HOPE FOR THE FUTURE.
“There’s also our work integration project at the seminar hotel in Lower Austria,” Frau Staudenherz goes on to explain. “This project gives participants an opportunity to work in a part-time position in the hotel sector. This enables them to gain valuable work experience, and by doing so, to take the first step towards a new professional future. During this time, they receive social supervision from HOPE FOR THE FUTURE. Participants take their first steps towards gaining financial independence and gather valuable references, while still being supported in all areas of their daily lives. They can get professional experience in the hotel industry, and learn what it’s like to practice a job in freedom and dignity. People can set themselves personal aims at this time, and even achieve some of these during the work integration project.”
For further details of this project, click here: https://www.hopeforthefuture.at/de/nachhaltig-in-die-zukunft-arbeitsintegrationsprojekt-im-seminarhotel-in-niederoesterreich/
BEGINNING SOMETHING NEW – THE START TO A NEW LIFE
Those completing the workshop programme at HOPE FOR THE FUTURE will come away with a number of particularly useful skills. Those who have dared to seek support on their own in order to move on from violent and exploitative conditions to a new future often have an unusual range of skills which can be highly valuable. It takes a huge amount of courage and endurance to find the strength to learn something new despite such difficult and traumatising circumstances.
CROWDFUNDING AGAINST SLAVERY
HOPE FOR THE FUTURE has launched the crowdfunding campaign “Say NO to Modern Slavery!” on the respekt.net platform. The target budget of 5,500 euros is designed to enable the sewing workshops to be expanded from their current length of 4 days a week to 5 days a week. If the target budget is achieved, then the upgrading of the range of courses is financed for the forthcoming year.
Translation by Tim Martinz-Lywood, European Exchange Ltd.
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