Saturday 31 January saw Art Saves Lives International (ASLI) run their very first Swap Shop event at the Barley Mow in Southsea, the first of many more to come.
The organisation’s aim is to give a voice to the unheard and make sure people have a way to communicate and express themselves through art. Armed with plenty of passionate volunteers ASLI are entirely dedicated to the cause.
Charlotte Farhan, Co-founder and Managing Director has seen ASLI grow over the past year and was excited for the charity once Saturday’s event was over, “I found Saturday went very well, we got a lot of great feedback, made valuable contacts with people in the community and we got signups for volunteering, artists, writers and lots of people signed up for our newsletter.”
Managing Director and Artistic Projects and Campaign Manager Lisa Reeve has been with the organisation since 2014, “The point of today is to raise awareness for ASLI and encourage upcycling and recycling in the community,” she says. “We believe that things don’t have to be bought with money they can be swapped.”
This fundraising event was their first local one and was a great way to raise awareness of their mission within the community. Becky Saunders is confident that the charity will be hosting similar events. “Today I see it as a way of promoting ourselves within the community to show them what we are up to and hopefully we’ll be doing more Swap Shops around Portsmouth.”
Becky Smith, who also works with the charity, hopes to bring her own experience to future events, “My background is with animal welfare and ethics. Animals can play a very important role in helping counsel people and getting them out and about. It’s a long way off and it’s very early days but the interaction with animals can be really invaluable.” Judging by the excitement of those attending, the buzz around the organisation and its event promises a lot of support.
The purpose of the Swap Shop was to promote a lifestyle of trading and recycling, if you don’t want something anymore that doesn’t mean someone else wouldn’t. No money is needed here (unless you’re donating to the charity of course), bring along anything you don’t want and browse through the rest of the donated items and take whatever catches your eye.
By the end of the day ASLI raised £123 and enjoyed a boost in their numbers as many more people signed up to help with their work.
This was just one of their fundraising ventures, the first came in 2014 in a partnership. “We did a project with Bursledon house last year, raising money and awareness for children in a residential hospital,” Lisa explained, “We did some art therapy and put it in an exhibition to raise the money.” Full of dedicated volunteers the organisation is getting swiftly and strongly to its feet. This year their focus has turned to ‘Engage, Educate and Express,’ and hopes this will bring more people onboard with their cause. Their next big event is coming up later this year. ” We have an event and exhibition coming up for mental health awareness month in May,” says Lisa.
The charity very much wants to dig its roots into the community and they worked together with many local businesses, including the Barley Mow. “I also have to say how amazing The Barley Mow was,” Charlotte said, “their staff are so generous and are firm ASLI friends.”
Photography by Lisa Reeve, Iain Turrell and Summer Grant