Community Projects

Case Study: B’Opera

B'Opera Community Project

B’Opera creates beautiful music for tiny ears through interactive performances for babies, toddlers and their grown-ups. B’Opera creates fully immersive theatrical experiences which invite you to enter the magical world of the show. These wonderful musical journeys are interactive and bring you and your little one up close and personal with trained operatic voices, which will have you joining in and singing along!

One such performance is ‘Alice and the Library tree’, written by Zoe Challenor in Sutton Coldfield. B’Opera had planned to perform ‘Alice’ at Birmingham Hippodrome during the February half term.

We tentatively agreed 7 days after we’d opened the Second Chance haberdashery that this was a creative opportunity we couldn’t turn down. We’d see if we could engage a community of people to help us put together a cloak which could be easily put on during the performance and be engaging to all the senses for the children watching the show. Zoe sent a proposed design of a dress that some fashion design students had come up with which should take over a section of the show where there would be a Tree Queen incorporating a love of literature and nature.

B'Opera Community Project

We immediately posted “we’ve been tasked with upcycling a theatre costume for use in the Birmingham Hippodrome next week. Come and sew with us! We need your leaves” on our social media platforms.

Within just a fortnight, we had coordinated a team of people to embroider, knit, and machine stitch leaves which could be sewn upon a donated base garment. The green satin dress was the perfect foundation on which to build. We took inspiration from the brief and a brown blanket which was donated that morning. We created a train on the back of the dress in a patterned green voile and attached a tree which branched out to reach to the children, each branch was embellished with the handmade leaves created by our volunteers.


  • Over 100 leaves were created.
  • Over 50 people contributed.
  • The youngest was 22months old. The eldest in her 80s. Many inbetween.
  • A number approx. 10 people who had never sewn before embroidered a leaf.
  • Skills share, a volunteer showed Maximilian how to hand crochet for the first time.
  • Mum’s were able to bring their children and sew whilst they napped.
  • Three generations of one family (Nanna, Ele & Willow) all sewed together to apply sewn leaves to the dress.
  • The children of the other market traders joined us in the haberdashery to make leaves.


“I haven’t cross-stitched since school! It’s like meditating” (J.H)

“I actually really like it here, handing out with you guys and doing a bit of sewing.” (R.L)

Case Study: #UP2020 Covid-19 Volunteer Response

Just six weeks after we committed to premises in Sutton Coldfield town centre, the indoor market was closed and the country entered a Covid-19 lockdown. Non essential businesses were not allowed to trade as we had before.

The UP Creative Community became busier than ever! You began making face coverings, uniform bags and scrubs for key workers during the initial PPE shortage.

So far, together you have gifted

? face coverings

? uniform bags

? kg of textile waste has been reused

We have received thanks from;

NHS Cottage Hospitals



The UP community has become stronger, larger and our skill set is incredible now we have you all on board!

Our machinists have been amazing! Your face coverings offer reassurance during a time of increased anxiety. We have had feedback from the mother of a child with complex health needs who have to go to their essential appointment in hospital but are petrified, the kind hearts who gifted their time during lockdown offered that little boy and his mummy reassurance during a really scary trip. Thank you!

We have received thank you cards from nurses and doctors, as well as the governor of NHS Mental Health for your donations of scrub bags. One Dr said “knowing I can just put it all in one place and get rid of it in the wash means I can get in and focus on my kids”. You gave him that peace of mind. Thank you!

The volunteers yourselves have turned to the group chat for support, for guidance, and to lift your own spirits. We know from our impact questionnaires that being part of the UP Creative Community Covid response has been essential to the volunteers own well-being. Having an outlet for positivity during a global pandemic, feeling like you have helped in any way you can has helped you!

Those who can not sew (yet), or do not have a machine at home have assisted in other ways. Threading embroidery threads, designing boredom busting sewing packs, cutting out lavender hearts, making bunny tail pom poms, stuffing envelopes, folding instruction booklets, gift wrapping masks, offering to distribute -you are as valued as the machinists, you have made the UP Covid response happen and we are incredibly grateful.

Boredom Busting packs have so far reached girls across Sutton Coldfield via charity Cherished UK, have helped students from University of Birmingham in isolation and miles away from family, have been developed and adapted to suit toddlers, targeted to appeal to children with complex additional needs and tailored to a number of elderly members of the community with dementia care and arthritis at the forefront of our design process.

We are part of a network of charities brought together by Birmingham City Council to grow this Covid response. We are keen to work with our partners in offering quality art and sewing resources across Birmingham to those who need them, whilst saving textile waste from landfill.

Please share your stories & your pictures with us.

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