Commercial: Pathways out of poverty through dressmaking

Dorcas Dressmaking Project supports people out of situations of poverty by providing skills training, resources and pastoral care. Their online training platform enables them to reach people wherever they are, even in remote parts of the world. They offer training, raise funds to provide equipment and support a network of volunteers building craft hubs in local churches. Their patented dress design has been developed so it can be used as a commercial enterprise tool, the sales from which are fed back into the charity to grow and support more people out of poverty. The clever cut, pleats and carefully situated ties on the dress eliminate the need for zips, other trimmings and complex machinery. In this way the project can support makers from situations of hardship, even in remote parts of the world.

There are currently local church sewing hubs across the UK as well as in various parts in Africa. The Dorcas signature size-adjustable dress was specially designed so it could be made in remote parts of the world where access to electricity is limited and sourcing trimmings difficult. As a charity they use all their funds (whether from dress sales, grants or fundraising activities) to support people out of situations of hardship by providing training, resources and pastoral care. The charity is modelled on their namesake Dorcas: a dressmaker from the early church, who welcomed others into her group, shared her sewing skills and took care of the marginalised in her community.

The Dorcas dress is a dress for all seasons of life, including pregnancy & nursing. Place dress over head. Thread back ties through the loops & tie at the back. Pleat fabric flat under pocket. Wrap the front bodice around the back and draw the ties to the front, tying in a bow to sit over or under the bodice.

The aim is to lift people out of poverty rather than holding them in it. Their transparent pricing policy that ensures this happens.

The Dorcas Dress project supports people out of situations of hardship by providing training, resources and pastoral care. They offer sewing and craft workshops in local church settings across the UK. They have sewing hubs in other places, for example Nigeria and Uganda, where trainers support the people around them to grow their own businesses, using the Dorcas specially designed, size-adjustable dress as part of their enterprise tool-kit. They also offer English classes to garment and textile workers who have moved to the UK for a better life: factory work is hard, production margins are tight and the industry struggles to support these valuable workers.

The intention is for all Dorcas trainees and volunteers to enjoy their time working with the project. Their trainers and mentors are a vital part of the programme and provide trainees with the valuable support they need. Trainees come from all walks of life and places. Dorcas want their trainees to feel valued and supported. During their time with the project they learn new things, develop their skills and leave with increased employment opportunities.

All trainees have access to an online learning platform. Anyone is welcome to visit as a guest, experience some of training tools and find out more about setting up a sewing hub

in their local church. Contact Dave Nicholson for more information david.nicholson@smitf.org