Project information

Out of the Box - OOTBOx

OOTBox up-cycles clothing that is either too worn or inappropriate to be given to the people we support, into individual bespoke fashion accessories and home furnishing. Items are produced and sold by vulnerable women who are not work ready increasing skills and self esteem and employability.


Charity information: Thames Valley Partnership

Thames Valley Partnership logo
  • Need


    OOTBox supports vulnerable women who are at risk of social exclusion and who are not able or ready to return to the work force, either due to physical or mental health problems. The women we support are come from a multitude of backgrounds including homeless women, women with mental health problems, substance misuse problems, or who have been involved in the criminal justice system.


    Working with the local women's centre and in a specialised workshop, we provide safe places for women to come and develop their creative sides. The women learn to sew and make items for sale and are involved in the direct sales to the public, increasing self-esteem and skills in customer service leading to increased self confidence, increased skills and employability. In the past year 3 women out of 20 participants have returned to work; 2 setting up their own businesses.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To increase social inclusion, self worth and skills of vulnerable women


    » Offer group arts and crafts afternoons to vulnerable women at a multi-agency support group.

    What success will look like

    Success will be measured as a positive change in self esteem of all participant measured through self assessment questionnaires.

    Aim 2

    To develop a self-sustaining enterprise


    » Sale of items on-line and at craft markets will generate income to support the venture.

    What success will look like

    The enterprise will be successful when the profit generated from the sales covers the total project costs. Surplus profit would be returned to support the charities beneficiaries.

  • Impact


    We will reduce the amount of waste material entering landfill sites. We will measure the weight of waste material that we up-cycle.
    The scheme will also increase the employability of the women attending the session and we will demonstrate this by measuring the return to work of the women who have participated in the scheme.


    Risks include lack of material and women to make the items, items will not be of high enough quality or will not generate sufficient profit to make the enterprise viable. We currently have to turn donations down and do not advertise the clothing bank, so we feel that we should not have a shortage of material. We are working with an existing women's support group. We have 3 professional advisers developing easy templates that will sell but we could apply for charity funds if necessary.


    We currently share our work through social media sites (twitter, facebook and instagram), newsletters and will hold stakeholder events to show case the goods produced.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £10,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £270 Craft Equipment Sewing machines/glue guns etc for craft workshops
      £2,500 Rent Workshop rental for 6 months
      £6,230 Sessional Staff Sessional staff to manage workshops, clothing banks and craft market stalls
      £750 Expenses Travel to and subsistence for workshop participants and craft markets
      £250 Marketing Website design,leaflets and online sales costs

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Revenue £3,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    We currently run weekly craft sessions in partnership with Alana House women's centre in Reading and have recently leased part of a workshop in Blackbird Leys, Oxfordshire in order to offer training in sewing and upholstery. We are also developing a possible part of the project with the local prison.


    Vulnerable women including homeless, offenders, drug and alcohol users, victims of domestic violence, young and single mother, unemployed, refugees and women from minority groups in the Thames valley region and volunteers from the local community who will benefit from skills and social contacts. Members of the local community who will be able to purchase unique, handcrafted fashion accessories and home furnishing and the environmental benefits due to less landfill.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We have a long track record of supporting socially excluded women and a history of delivering highly successful arts projects. We have developed a partnership with an existing women's support group and have a source of raw material from our clothing bank. in addition a local business has agreed to donate all their end of line fabrics and off-cuts to the project. We have professional volunteer advisers who are developing the templates for us and skilled IT and photography volunteers.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Alana House

    Alana House the women's centre in Reading and provide the premise and participants for the craft sessions.

    Caroline Stevens

    Caroline is the founder of OOTBox . She combines her professional knowledge of working with vulnerable women with a love of craft.

    Aimee Franklin

    Aimee has a degree in fine art and sewing and teaches the women sewing skills as well as designing templates for sale.

    Noreen Mason

    Noreen is a very capable knitter, sewer and volunteer mentor who helps lead the sessions at Alana House.


Will pay for 20 women to attend one session

The sessions are really fun, with lots of variety. I love the people, thank you for everything.

Katie - participant