I thought I tell you about a local project I’ve been involved with since June this year – Lauder Trading Post.
I heard that a group of crafty-type people in my village, Lauder (actually it’s a Royal and Ancient Burgh, don’t you know), were forming a co-operative with a view to opening a craft/gift shop in The Smiddy, which was being vacated by the local library. This is The Smiddy, it was an old blacksmith’s shop and still has the forge area intact:
I went along to a meeting, and it was great to find some like-minded people living in my area. The idea was to help local people get their small craft businesses started by working together to be able to afford to run a shop, and to share the skills we learned while doing this to other people in our community. We were expected to share working in the shop, but would be able to take the majority of our sales for ourselves. The more we talked, the more ideas came up: we could run our own craft fairs, put on events, provide a craft and community education workshops. The Smiddy is joined onto the Leader Leisure Centre complex,
and there are rooms behind the Smiddy that we could hire out for events and workshops. The Leisure Centre isn’t the most attractive building in Lauder, but the surrounding buildings make up for it:
I decided I would take this opportunity, get involved, and see what happened.
We have had a lot of support and help from the Scottish Borders Social Enterprise Chamber, and after much discussion we set up as a Community Interest Company, instead of a Company Limited by Guarantee. We realised that sharing our skills with the community was a big part of what we wanted to do, and quite honestly, would attract grant funding help to make it all possible.
We have been very busy: it was a bit tough trying to get creative people to concentrate on legal issues, liability, town planning etc. We’ve been filling in grant and planning forms, and running a local survey to find out if the community liked our ideas (the majority of those we surveyed gave their approval). Now we have put on 2 fundraising events, and have an schedule of workshops running in October.
The last fundraising event involved me making a bit of a fool of myself for the sake of craft:
I dressed as a surgeon for a Craft Surgery, where people could bring along stalled craft projects for me to kick start. It was a bit slow to get going, so I got my drop spindle out and did a bit of spinning, which broke the ice and people started to chat to me about crafts – it also meant I was a Spin Doctor! Sorry, bad joke.
This event was held in the room behind The Smiddy, We decorated it up and served tea and coffee,
thanks to lovely vintage bunting made by one of our members, Anne. Some of us made cakes:
Lara ran fantastic children’s Autumnal Craft activities: waxed paper leaf and driftwood mobiles,
fingerprint tree bookmarks and bird feeders. Anne ran Alteration Station: where people could have a go at altering their clothes to fit etc., and using sewing machines. We also had our crafts for display in The Smiddy:
It was popular, and I think everyone who came and stayed had a fun afternoon.
At the moment, we are waiting for change of use planning permission to go through for The Smiddy, we’ve had good feedback form the Planning Office, and all looks positive and we hope to be in The Smiddy, full time, around the end of October.
Please help us by voting for us on the RBS CommunityForce website, we are competing with other organisations in the East Borders area for a grant of £6000. This would help us to buy equipment and supplies for our workshops, hire venues and refurbish The Smiddy, voting closes midday 24th October.
We made a short video about us to support our bid for a grant with the Royal Bank of Scotland:
We have a Facebook group page if you would like to find out more about us. I have also set up Ruth’s Knitting & Crochet Facebook group to support the workshops I will be holding. My first workshops are Beginners Crochet on Monday 10th October at 1.30pm and Beginners Knitting on Wednesday 19th October at 7.30pm, both held at Leader Leisure Centre/Smiddy.
I hope you are interested and can help us out by voting for us.