The Royal Cornwall Show saw the relaunch of Ways with Willow as a charitable organisation, with a bright new look and new team members, exciting new products and designs, and a new business model.
We were thrilled to be invited into the first ever Social Enterprise Zone at Royal Cornwall Show, which showcased the very best in social enterprise from right across the county. On top of that, we were doing demonstrations every day, making giant willow hearts, and teaching groups of visitors to make willow fish. We met some fantastic people doing very exciting work and the event was a great success.
We all worked our socks off in the run-up to the show, developing our new willow kits, weaving dragonflies, hearts, fish and flowers to sell, and updating our website and marketing materials, nevertheless, we found some time to reflect – and get a little teary eyed – on how far we have come in such a short time.
Just over two years ago, Sian set up Ways with Willow as a community interest company to provide creative therapeutic opportunities for disadvantaged and vulnerable people. Having escaped an abusive relationship and overcome mental health problems through the use of willow, Sian felt it was important that she used her own experiences to help others in similar situations. Back then, Sian was single-handedly providing willow craft courses and workshops.
In just two years, we have grown to a team of six employees and many volunteers, and whilst the provision of courses and workshops remains a key aspect of our work, we have found ourselves working in many new areas, from wedding designs to our newest venture… willow kit production. And the more Ways with Willow develops, the more we offer people with physical and mental health problems or those from other disadvantaged groups.
This year, we’re tackling unemployment through our work programme for people with learning disabilities and mental health problems, as well as inspiring vulnerable women to improve their confidence and move forwards in their lives through our volunteer training programme.
And in another two years..? At our current rate of growth, anything is possible. Ways with Willow has exceeded all expectations since it was founded and many Cornish people of all ages have, once again, become hooked on the traditional craft of willow weaving. Demand for our services is increasing and we’re very excited about what the future holds for Sian and her team, as well as the people we serve.
Ways with Willow, as always, is weaving a way forward…