The Handicrafts project has its origins at Calcutta Rescue’s first project – the street clinic on Middleton Row. The sewing teacher from Calcutta Rescue’s school was brought in to train former patients how to make clothes. Before long, these former patients were producing clothes for the clinic’s existing patients. At the same time, of course, they were themselves earning a wage that helped them to support themselves and their families. This was vital employment for people whose opportunities for work were otherwise severely limited owing to illness.
Among the volunteers who worked at the clinic, Julie Speechley, a designer, who saw scope for expansion and diversification, encouraged this project. She taught children from the Calcutta Rescue School to make small handicraft items like; key rings, bookmarks and cards – that gave the children valuable vocational skills.
This success led to former patients being trained and employed to make handicrafts of a sufficiently high standard that they could be sold abroad. Not only did this generate employment and income for people who would otherwise have found it very difficult to find safe work, it also helped raise funds for Calcutta Rescue’s services.
The demand for handicrafts increased steadily and the need for a larger working area soon became evident. Space was made in the school for a small group of people to work on stitching and make a growing number of handicraft items. Successive volunteers also taught the participants new skills – in art, embroidery, woodwork, painting and other crafts.
What began as a peripheral clinic activity has developed today into a vibrant, stand – alone project. The handicrafts project has formal Fair Trade accreditation and more than half of our entire handicrafts sales are to Fair Trade shops.
It has a workshop in the Sova Bazaar area of North Kolkata. Staff members are former patients – widows and women who have been deserted by their husbands, or whose husbands are too sick to find regular work. Students who have had difficulty with academic education or dropped out of school are also employed. They are learning new skills and are continuously improving on those that they have learned. At the same time, they are earning valuable income for themselves and their families. This is all the more significant in a context in which uneducated and unskilled women are typically at the lowest level of employability and constantly vulnerable to exploitation.
The Handicrafts project has 29 trainees, all former patients from our clinic or drop-out students from our schools – in addition to the 12 regular daily staff. Not only does the project produce a wide range of handicrafts that are sold both in India and abroad, it also makes clothes and other items for the patients and students at Calcutta Rescue’s Clinics and schools. The project produces cards, bags, cushion covers, table linen and many other quality products. A new and innovative range that recycles old silk into attractive shawls, scarves and bags, has proved to be very popular among customers in Europe and North America.
The Handicrafts Project also works closely with our Weaving Project using the cloth that has been spun and woven there.
All goods are made to order. The time between placing an order and that order being dispatched depends on the size of the order and other work being done at the time. We will always try to accommodate your requirements and get your order made and sent as soon as possible. We pride ourselves on personal service.
The catalogue contains details of the products’ weight, size and price. There is no minimum order size. We look after each customer’s order individually and try to cater to everyone’s needs and requirements, regardless of the order value.
All goods are Fair Trade certified. Labels identify each item as having been made by Calcutta Rescue.Please note that recycled or vintage items (scarves, shawls, bags, etc. - usually with the code ‘RE - number’) will always vary in colour and design. These pieces are made from individual old saris where the silk is washed and then recycled into a new product – we, therefore, cannot guarantee any particular design or colour, this uniqueness being very much a part of the intrinsic appeal.
To place an order, or for any query, please call us on +91 (033) 25300513 or send us a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
To see the catalogue please click here
- In person at the Fairlawn Hotel every Thursday between 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm.The Fairlawn Hotel: 13/A, Sudder StreetKolkata – 700 016
- Via your Support Group
- At our workshop at 19, Gokul Mitra LaneKolkata – 700 005, (near Rajballav Para, Central Avenue, nearest underground metro station– Shova Bazar Shutanuti)
- Prices are in Rupees (INR) and is subject to change
- All goods are Fair Trade certified
- All goods are identified as made by Calcutta Rescue by unobtrusive Calcutta Rescue labeling
- Goods that are made from recycled materials (codes RE-) vary in colour and design – we aim to ensure that there is a good colour / design mix in all orders
We hold a sale of handicrafts every Thursday evening between 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm at the Fairlawn Hotel on Sudder Street – which is always an enjoyable and social occasion. The stall has a small but good representation of our range - the space available limits the stock we can display.
Prices are very competitive - ranging from Rs. 20/- to Rs. 500/- and the handicrafts make great and affordable gifts. The stall is manned by volunteers who are happy to answer any questions you may have on handicrafts (including special designs, orders, etc.) and any of Calcutta Rescue’s other projects.
Make a Personal Visit
Visit our Handicrafts Workshop at 19 Gokul Mitra Lane, Kolkata 700 005 (nearest metro Shova Bazaar Shyanuti) where we keep a limited stock of items. Please call in advance to let us know you’re coming +91 (033) 2530 0513.Private/Individual Customers – Overseas
We are happy to fulfill smaller individual orders, but please be aware that at times the cost of shipping of the goods can get high. You may find it more convenient to liaise with your nearest support group, which may stock some of our handicraft range.
Calcutta Rescue has two weaving centers about 60 kms. from Kolkata at Canning and Tamuldah in South 24 Parganas, a rural district with high unemployment and very little job opportunities. Calcutta Rescue provides training in basic weaving to the local youth from poor backgrounds and provides them a stipend. In addition to the weaving training, these youngsters also receive basic education in Bengali, Maths and English.
These centers weave yarn to produce jute mix, poplin, lining, cora cloths and other varieties of cloths. These fabrics are used by the Handicrafts workshop for making clothes for our patients and school children as well as for the production of most of the handicraft items. A small amount of silk cloth is also produced. In winter, thick cotton shawls for distribution to our patients are also woven. Finished goods produced on site are sarees, lungis (wrap arounds for men) and bandages for our clinics.