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Making HUGs: Crafting well-being benefits through social manufacturing

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New approaches to manufacturing that engage groups of individuals in collaborative making have the potential not only to generate economic benefit, but also to enhance the well-being of those involved. This article describes a small investigation into the well-being benefits expressed by a group of women who participated in a textile-based social manufacturing project in their local community. Outcomes include a small run of textile products and delivery of training for participants in small batch textile production. The purpose of the project ‐ to manufacture a small batch of soft textile objects to be used in dementia care ‐ is described. A small study is presented that utilizes data collected during this project. It evidences how social manufacturing can extend creative and social skills of participants, build resilience and enhance well-being. The participants in the study include a ‘self-reliant group’ of aspiring entrepreneurs from an economically deprived community and a university team comprising researchers, industry specialists and textile experts. Grounded practical theory and qualitative research methods inform the study. Data gathered using semi-structured video-recorded interviews and simple questionnaires is presented. Findings reveal individual and community benefits to participants from engaging in the project, including self-reported improvements in mental health and increased confidence. The study also reveals ways in which social manufacturing has the potential to build community cohesion and reduce social isolation. This work contributes to research concerning new types of sustainable manufacturing models. It presents an alternative to industrial manufacturing within socially disadvantaged communities and reveals ways in which social manufacturing has the potential to enhance individual and community well-being.

Keywords: community; craft; making; social manufacturing; textiles; well-being

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000120341556Cardiff Metropolitan University

Publication date: December 1, 2020

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  • The Journal of Arts and Communities seeks to provide a critical examination of the practices known as community or participatory arts, encompassing a field of work defined for this purpose as incorporating active creative ollaboration between artists and people in a range of communities.The journal will take a cross-artform and interdisciplinary approach,including work happening in performance, visual arts and media,writing, multimedia and collaboration involving digital technology and associated forms. In part this will create an archive that will document work which can otherwise be ephemeral
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