AND Clothes – a clothing brand run by adults with learning disabilities

AND CLOTHES

In December 2020 we were thrilled to receive some funding from the People’s Health Trust to start up our AND Clothing Project. AND Clothes is an exciting new enterprise run by adults with a learning disability. The funding allowed us to employ two members of staff to support the team of 8 members to build the business and brand with the aim of spreading the #abilitiesnotdisabilities message to the world. The group learn a wide range of skills in order to become social entrepreneurs and together they run every aspect of the clothing business from design, marketing, event planning and sales.

AND Clothes design and sell T-shirts, hoodies and sweatshirts with eye catching designs and empowering slogans. Our mission is to change the way society view people with a learning disability and to open their eyes to their true potential. All profits goes back into building a brand the group can be really proud of and we also aim that the project will help create more paid employment for its members in the future.

Despite the January lockdown we still went ahead as planned and the group meet twice a week on Zoom. During the online sessions the team relax with some creative time painting and drawing new designs while discussing how to build the business. We are also excited to be working with Fabrication – another social enterprise based in Leeds. Fabrication supports small businesses by giving them a space to sell in the city centre. AND currently sell their clothes on the Fabrication website and when it is safe to do so the team will be working in the shop to learn retail and customer service skills and manage the stock we have available in the store.

PATRICK GRANT – COMMUNITY CLOTHING

The project has had a lot of support and interest from other organisations such as Leeds Art University, Future Fashion Factory and has had some amazing business advice from the BBC’s Sewing Bee Celebrity Patrick Grant. Patrick, who runs his own clothing social enterprise Community Clothing based in Blackburn has been giving us some really useful tips on how to get the brand off the ground. It was a real honour to meet and chat with him with the team and we were all so excited when he gave us some really good feedback about our new designs. We hope to be working with him more closely as the project develops further.

NEW DESIGNS

The team are not short of ideas for new designs and have already created several that are being prepared for print. AND Clothes will be releasing their new collection of clothes in the Spring that will include a new line of gorgeous tote bags, T-Shirts and hoodies all designed by the group.

Here is a sneak preview of some of the new designs the team have been busy creating:

WELLBEING THROUGH THE ARTS

It has been proved that art and creativity helps improve mental health. This can be through creating paintings and drawings or having creative discussions and coming up with ideas. Part of the projects aims is to help improve the team’s wellbeing and also feel part of a community with members having a strong positive purpose. Everyone’s voice is heard and the team make all their business decisions together. AND Clothes have such a strong message to spread and its purpose is to improve the lives of adults with learning disabilities around the world. We’re very excited about this project and where it could go from here.
If you’d like to find out more about AND Clothes click here

#abilitiesnotdisabilities

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The Mental Health impact of the Covid- 19 pandemic #timetotalkday2021

#timetotalkday is an annual campaign that aims to end the stigma attached to mental health and encourage everyone to start having conversations about how they really feel.

https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/ says: We know that the more conversations we have, the more myths we can bust and barriers we can break down, helping to end the isolation, shame and worthlessness that too many of us with mental health problems are made to feel.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been tough for even the most resilient of us and the effects of the pandemic on the nation’s mental health will be a legacy we need to deal with.

People with a learning disability can be more likely to experience poor mental health because of:

  • Biology and genetics may increase vulnerability to mental health problems
  • A higher incidence of negative life events
  • Access to fewer resources and coping skills – even more notable during the 2020 Covid pandemic
  • The impact of other people’s attitudes

The pandemic has been especially hard for our members and services like Leep1 that offer support and activities to adults with learning disabilities have remained open as much as possible to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the people we are here to help.

When we re-opened in September after the first lockdown our members saw improvements to their mood and mental health almost immediately. Watch our short film about how the Leep1 Online Group has been helping our members stay connected and how the reopening of Leep1 was such a welcomed event….

#timetotalk #mentalhealthmatters #mentalhealthawareness #stigma

Learning Disability Community Disco

It’s been nearly a year since we hosted one of our club nights at Pryzm Nightclub in Leeds. These evenings were one of the highlights of everyone’s month with around 200 people attending from the Learning Disabled Community. We are all desperate to be able to get together soon and can’t wait until we can host another event at Pryzm in the near future.

To try make up for this we’ve been running virtual DJ nights on our Facebook Group throughout the pandemic. Listening to some great tunes, we dance tnd chat online while the event is streamed live into our homes and kitchens!

The weekends start early at Leep1 with DJ nights running from Thursday to Saturday every week. Our members kindly volunteer to host these weekly events and they have learnt some amazing new DJ-ing skills along the way.

Thursday Nights

Thursday night is Ollie and Chris’s turn on the decks playing 80s and 90s hits. Chris and Ollie have both invested in some fantastic equipment to enhance their shows: from UV backdrops to professional DJ lights and mixing software.

Friday Night

Vicky loves to play classic club dance hits to get the weekend really started but loves taking requests too.

Saturday Night

Dj Sapphire has learnt some great skills along the way and invested in some Professional DJ Decks during the first lockdown. She loves to play a real mixture of music from reggae, dub, dance and pop.

More information about how to join our Facebook Group which is a safe and supportive space for adults with learning disabilities can be found here:
https://leep1.co.uk/