Dundee kids needle their way into awards and work placements with sewing course

Young people from Dundee have brighter futures sewn up after stitching their way to a new qualification in garment production. The SQA Kindred Clothing Award was completed by six youngsters at Baldragon Academy as part of the school day.

Initially offered as a pilot programme, the high school is now adopting the program permanently as part of its curriculum, alongside other vocational courses in areas like beekeeping, gardening and artisanal coffeemaking. Of the six graduates from the pilot scheme, two have already secured placements with Dundee-based businesses to keep building on their sewing skills.

The course was delivered with the help of a number of local enterprises in fashion, PR and photography. Showing off their creations today were Charlie Henderson, Paige Fyffe, Samantha Haxton and Chloe Morrison.

They were joined by Alana Brown and Kai Edwards, who are currently enjoying placements with Front Lounge, Isolated Heroes and Jo-AMI. With a graduation planned for August 2022, the charity is now recruiting learners for the next block, including learners from other local schools.

The scheme has been praised by teachers for helping disengaged children to re-connect with learning.

Hugh McAninch, headteacher at Baldragon Academy, said “Kindred Clothing has made a fantastic and important contribution to our pupils and the school. Seeing young people develop skills for life, learning and working through an opportunity like this is amazing.

“KC has given these young people a focus and the chance to work towards a credible and valuable qualification in a different way than they might have realized was possible. Many of them have been genuinely surprised at what they could do and are opening their eyes to new possibilities down the line.”

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As well as the effect on their school life, the Baldragon course has made a huge difference at home for families. Kai Edwards’ mum Michelle McGuigan said: “Kai has been struggling to attend school for around two years and things have been difficult, with Kai’s confidence being extremely low.

“We didn’t expect huge changes to Kai’s attendance at school but it has improved. They engaged much better with this than school as it’s a completely different learning environment, and Kai found it much easier to learn.

“Since starting the internship, Kai has become even more engaged, it’s mind-blowing. We can now talk about future options, like college, and Kai can see a future.”

Kindred Clothing graduate Chloe Morrison in one of her own creations

Dundee Live has covered the work of Kindred Clothing before, as it works to help disenchanted and isolated kids re-engage with education. The initiative is run by the charity Front Lounge and aims to take learners through the key stages of garment production, from setting up a sewing machine through to the design process and even presentation, including fashion photography.

Last year, we reported on a partnership with Grove Academy that saw youngsters learn how to produce giant hand-woven scarves. As well as producing something they could wear and call their own, the S2 pupils also made friends with their fellow stitchers and re-engaged with education in an unconventional way.

Chika Inatimi, Project Leader, Front Lounge added, “The Baldragon Academy project is evidence of what we can achieve if we work in partnership with schools. Kindred Clothing was always about more than sewing skills.

“All of our learners have gone on to secure internships and jobs with local businesses, which is a staggering achievement and something all learners can aspire to. We’re delighted to have achieved this goal with Baldragon Academy. We can’t wait to see the next stage of their journey.”

Kindred Clothing is open to anyone under the age of 25 who is not employed or in any form of education. For more information, email [email protected], call/leave a message on (01382) 220330 or visit www.frontlounge.org.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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