Birketts supports sewing charity tailored to boost mental health


17 December 2020

Leading regional law firm, Birketts, is lending its support to a new Cambridge-based charity, Sew Positive. Run by volunteers, the charity evolved from CommunityMasks4NHS (which raised an £40,000 for NHS Charities Together) to assist with the emerging mental health crisis that arose from the pandemic.

Providing sewing workshops, virtual community groups and products for sale, the charity not only produces handmade masks to combat the spread of COVID-19 but supports individuals facing social isolation as a result of the lockdowns. With a donation of £5 per mask going directly to buying materials and fundraising services for vulnerable groups, Sew Positive has brought communities together as many face unemployment, financial hardship and ill health.

Students, retirees, shielding individuals and a host of volunteers from across the country have made in excess of 12,000 face coverings with over 1,000 donated to local charities and voluntary groups for free, including Jimmy’s, Cambridge Women’s Refuge, Turtledove, Illuminate (Mental Health), Homestart, Community Transport teams and many more.

The Birketts Charities Team worked with charity founder, Melissa Santiago-Val, to advise upon the most appropriate area of charitable purpose to suit the activities of the charity (in this case, social inclusion), provided appropriate draft objects and guidance on the requirements for charitable registration, and supported the charity in satisfying the Charity Commission of the charitable nature and enormous public benefit arising from the charity’s activities. The charity was registered on 7 December 2020.

Charity founder, Melissa Santiago-Val, commented: “Everyone at Sew Positive is delighted with the support we have received from the team at Birketts. Liz Brownsell provided us with quick and effective initial advice on our charitable purposes and the public benefit requirements, and then Frances Godden worked with us on the detail to help prepare our submissions to the Charity Commission. All of the advice we received was clear, concise, and cost effective, and both Liz and Frances were friendly and very easy to work with. Sew Positive is proud to provide support to vulnerable and isolated individuals through creativity, sewing and crafts projects and to promote the importance of bringing communities together.”

Liz Brownsell, Head of Charities at Birketts, concluded: “With the emerging mental health crisis from the pandemic continuing to grow, the role of charities like Sew Positive is more important now than ever.  By providing purpose and a social outlet for those struggling with the impact of social isolation in 2020, the benefits of such charities in supporting mental health are immeasurable. Birketts are delighted to have been able to help the vital work of Sew Positive to continue.”