The Grassmarket Mission has taken on knitting and weaving as part of its therapy intercession for its clients, who are either drug addicts, alcoholics, homeless, ex-cons, or all of the above…in general, a significant part of the world’s humanity with no hope. Here the words ‘weaving, knitting and crocheting’ take on their idiomatic properties, weaving community, knitting together one life at a time.

“The Grassmarket Mission is a charity dedicated to getting alongside people who are poor, marginalised, excluded, homeless, struggling with addiction or mental illness.

Our ethos is based around trying to meet people’s needs both physically and spiritually.”

The Greyfriars Community Project now includes classes and team involvement learning and creating with a focus on age-old traditional crafts. The effort is twofold: to give addicts and those who live a chaotic lifestyle a purpose, and also to reinvigorate traditional crafts and the skills needed to produce them. Men and women from the streets of Edinburgh, Scotland are learning weaving, knitting and crochet to give their lives purpose and a sense of structure. Learning new skills and in the end producing a tangible product has fostered re-built lives with direction and organization.

One 21 year old male, convicted of attempted murder and has spent many years in jail is now participating in this project says, “It’s like a dream come true. I’ve been in prison several times, more than several times, and then I started in here and from then on I’ve found a better person within myself. I come here to clear my head and just focus on doing stuff instead of being out in the streets gang fighting and taking drugs.” The Grassmarket Mission also offers a community run herb garden, cooking classes, art, and hill-walking, and a valuable sense of belonging, missing in the lives of its service users.

And then there is the project called GROW (Greyfriars Recycling of Wood), which teaches wood joinery skills and provides vocational outlets. GROW utilizes old church pews, antique and discarded wooden items to make high quality furniture, mirrors and the like. It’s called “unique furniture with a social conscience.” One self proclaimed “drunk punk”, a classic alcoholic frontman from a punk band with body piercings and tattos on head and neck, has found a less anarchic passion at GROW in the making of beautifully crafted clocks from the reclaimed wood. The clocks are then sold at craft markets and the money goes to support GROW. One volunteer instructor notes, “It’s not about recycled wood, it’s about recycled lives.”