About Us


The UP Creative Community is a collaborative of local artists who offer sustainable textile waste management in Sutton Coldfield.

We seek to do things differently, empowering the rejection of fast fashion and excessive purchasing in the mainstream.

We collect unwanted and used fabric items and repurpose them adding magic and sending them to their forever homes.

Our UPSkill programmes promote skills sharing amongst the community, from teaching basic sewing skills, to pattern cutting, handstitch for repair and for cathartic art. We offer a safe space for creativity to bloom, upcycling garments into unique pieces. We offer the tools to make better choices, to take some one else’s discarded items and make them into something incredibly beautiful and useful.

From resources for charities to use in their programmes, to costumes for local Opera, encouraging body positivity by showing how to make clothing to fit individual bodies, collaborative projects across the schools in the region to intergenerational making, we are at the forefront of change. Rejecting the norm and showing that sustainable thought is no more than taking your time to consider your choices rather than do what is easiest. By slowing down our consumption we make better choices.

We offer a consultancy to commerce, education and the third sector in cultural change-  focussing on the current habitual consumption and highlighting how we can make tiny institutionally engrained decisions differently to save money and use the resources we already have in the community.

FROM THE DIRECTORS, DECEMBER 2020

The UP Creative Community have received donations of textiles from across Sutton Coldfield. In just nine short months, we have collected over 6000kgs of fabric and processed it to prevent it from entering landfill. 

Initially when our community hub and second chance haberdashery was locked down in Sutton center due to the pandemic, we turned our skills into sharing, upcycling unwanted fabrics into Cover UP face coverings and uniform bags for Key workers and distributing through the foodbanks and NHS. 

We created a community of UP Makers, keen sew and sews, some unskilled but willing, others highly experienced seamstresses who have a shared desire to UP cycle and UP Skill. We became one another’s purpose throughout the lockdowns and subsequent months, sharing ideas, gifting time and making with purpose. 

We joined the Early Help Partnership with Birmingham City Council and became integral to its pledge to offer essential services creatively. We have gone on to add UP magic to waste products collecting and finding the best reuse of an unwanted item.

Through our Clothes Bank at the Town Hall, Garment Grab, Dignity bags for rough sleepers and Street Angels we have rehomed clothing that was heading for the bin. We offer a referral request service for all the local charities to ask whenever they need clothing and it is delivered without judgment. We have helped rough sleepers, those who are unexpectedly redundant, families with uniform and some victims of domestic violence. 

The non garment fabric is repurposed through different projects with the charity partners. We have created handmade lighthouse bean bags for children through Beacon Family Services. Every child now receives a personalised Seaside Kit bag containing their four individual bean bags shaped as lighthouses. They are designed in the style of the logo to remind the user that their time with the charity is a beacon of light showing them the right way to behave to traumas. They were designed in collaboration with the charity to make a Covid secure inner layer which is wipeable and a soft, appealing outer layer which can be washed. Our UP Makers have made over 100 bean bags to date from UPcycled fabrics. 

With local textile artists we have designed and created a series of Anxiety Animal sewing kits which can be used during counselling to distract the hands and allow the user to be soothed. We designed clear sewing instructions and a pocket for worries to be placed. Sloth is a reminder to slow down and just be sometimes, Koala is extra padded for comfort and cuddles and Meerkat works alongside the book by Jane Evans for anxiety in children. These packs are currently being rolled out to Our Place Support and Cherished UK. 

These proudly UP cycled kits could be sold as seasonal gifts for people to entertain themselves creatively over the winter season whilst at home. Some come with rum (Pirate Kit), others with a tea bag, all with love and a reminder to take a moment for cathartic art in this busy time.

We are incredibly proud of what we have achieved in creating, developing and nurturing this incredible community asset.

We have pledged to recruit more expert trustees to support our growth and protect our founding ethos of People and Planet as well as a new Director of Sales. If you are interested in joining this passionate, resourceful team please do contact us.

Who we are

Helen Waite

Helen has a background in making something from nothing.

A single mum who retrained from retail sales manager without A Levels to Bachelor of Arts at the University of Birmingham and is currently studying toward an MRes at the University of Leicester, the precursor to what she hopes will become a doctorate. 

Helen’s academic interests are what drives people, studying Philosophy, Religion and Ethics before applying that to museology. She has specialised in taking the academic and historical and making them fun and accessible to all abilities and ages. Often through creative workshops in her role for Deaf Blind UK, tackling awkward truths of colonisation through focus groups and panel talks, through development of digital applications and Virtual Manuscript Room for the university, and most recently through her work at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery collating a Zine for the Arts Council and an accessible guide for the Leonardo Da Vinci celebration with The Royal Collection. 

Helen is passionate about nature and can be found in her natural habitat sitting on the ground making fire outside her converted Toyota van with her mini me in tow whenever possible. This desire to celebrate and enjoy our planet has always driven her to consider ways in which her family’s life could be more sustainable (offsetting the impact of the diesel van to begin with). A keen eye has allowed her to self fund through university by having an online vintage clothing boutique which also allows her to spot a garment donation that is worth retailing for the maximum input to the CIC.

Full of ideas and a frugal Yorkshire lass, Helen brings tenacity and passion to the UP Creative Community Hub project.

Beverley Gould

Chief Exective Officer

Beverley Gould has worked the last two decades as a finance, fundraising and compliance professional within the third sector.  She has worked on projects including improving referral pathways for asylum seekers and refugees, developing robust support services for victims of crime, and delivering advocacy and representation for welfare benefit tribunal claimants.  She brings to the hub her experience in bid writing, writing business plans, forming budgets, writing operational strategies and procedures, and monitoring and evaluation of large scale projects.  With experience of managing United Nations, European Union, Big Lottery and other UK trusts’ grants, her focus at the Hub is to ensure funding, data, quality standards, monitoring, evaluation and reporting are documented, and constitutional and legal requirements are met so that it can thrive for the benefit of the community and its members.   

UP Founder Erika Steinvorth

Erika is originally from Costa Rica, a small country in Central America. She moved to England in 2016 with her husband and children. 

Erika is an Agricultural Engineer from EARTH University. The focus of their education swerved her into having a socially and environmentally responsible entrepreneur mindset. Her favourite subject was Waste Management and consequently this introduced her to the upcycling of textile waste which combined perfectly with her lifetime sewing hobby. In recent years her hobby has shifted into her main activity mostly because of the global demand to help counteract the environmental, social and financial damage of fast fashion.

She has over a decade of experience in product development and repurposing of donated fabrics as it has become a passion in life (see Ika’s Upcycling on Facebook). After suffering from depression a couple of years ago she found her remedy in sewing. It got even better as she started offering sewing sessions at her house to other mothers in the neighbourhood. She would guide them through their projects and show how the solution of their problems was available in their own hands. The activity was so positively received that the next obvious step is to expand to be able to offer it to all the community.

Erika is no longer a Director of The UP Creative Community CIC as she seeks to expand her own Telacicla Ltd. We value her contribution at the early stages of establishing the UP CIC and continue to strive to focus our offerings based on her foundational ethos of what is most sustainable for our home.

You can support Erika at INSERT HER WEBSITE

WE ARE RECRUITING

FEEL OUR VIBE?

We encourage different narratives to enter the mainstream white heterosexual dominants we see which form our current societal norms. We stand in solidarity with the decolonisation of our institutions, educations and actively work to challenge those which are so engrained our privilege blinds us to their existence. In doing so, we make a commitment, that our next board and steering group members shall be POC to create a more even representation in our organisation.

More Than A Moment: Action With & For Black Creatives

to radically transform the West Midlands arts and culture sector.

The More Than A Moment pledge is the West Midlands Arts sector’s promise to take radical, bold and immediate action, to dismantle the systems that have for too long kept Black artists and creatives from achieving their potential in the arts and cultural industries.

Organisations who sign up to the pledge, wholeheartedly commit to ensuring equity, investment in, and opportunities with and for Black artists and creatives within their organisation’s culture and work, and in doing so, becoming the change we all need to see.

This pledge and process was designed and created in Summer and Autumn 2020 by the More Than a Moment Working Group, in partnership with the Black Creative Workforce and West Midlands Cultural Sector, to be a promise for radical and permanent change. It was launched on 29 October 2020.

We acknowledge and thank all of the Black Creative Workforce for their time, honesty and emotional labour in contributing to meetings and the Radically Listening research.

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Safety in our Creative Community

Our volunteers, supporters and members are equally important to us, and we want the Creative Community to be a safe space for everyone.

All our directors old enhanced DBS checks, are CACHE Level 2 trained in Mental Health First Aid, Safeguarding and Prevent, and Understanding Children and Young People’s Mental Health.

Please see our Policy section for further details.HELEN WAITE SAFEGUARDING CERTIFICATE SEPTEMBER 2020DOWNLOADabout:blank

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