Robyn Wilson spots a familiar sign out the window on her local bus travelling down Darling Street in Sydney’s Inner West, it’s The Sewing Basket. The pop-up shop has just opened on the bustling strip in Balmain in April 2019, which was followed soon after by a permanent location down the street.
“When I saw The Sewing Basket had arrived in town I was like ‘Oh yes!’” says Robyn who has been an avid shopper and supporter of the popular fabric shop for many years. “I signed up to volunteer straight away. I just love all the things that we sell and the people I work with.”
After signing up to volunteer one day a week, Robyn felt she had found her place. The opportunity gave Robyn not only the chance to share her love of sewing and fabrics with others, but also the chance to have some time just for herself.
”“I love it because I’m really happy working here and I feel free,” she says. “It’s also respite for me because I am also a full time carer for my son Tim.”Robyn Wilson
The family’s connection to The Sewing Basket goes back several years. Robyn’s son Timothy Wilson, who has cerebral palsy, intellectual disability and 9% of his vision, was involved in the sports program at Crowle Home for children with disabilities. “We knew many of the families who used to go to Crowle Home back then, and I supported the local fabric sales and the Meadowbank shop,” says Robyn.
As Tim’s main carer, Robyn admits that, while it is hard work being a carer, the NDIS has really helped her family. Today, Tim travels to and from open employment at the dental hospital where he has worked for more than 20 years. An NDIS support worker is also helping Tim to learn new skills at home like using the computer and getting out and about in the community.
“It’s a 24-hour job being a carer. I know the NDIS has its problems, there’s no denying that, but it has great potential and will only get better in time,” explains Robyn.
Community attitudes have also come a long way over the years. “People are very kind and supportive these days too,” she went on to say. “Everyone knows Tim around the community to say hello and sometimes he even gets an extra bread roll at the bakery.”
At The Sewing Basket, a supportive and like-minded community also draws people to its three shops across Sydney, and to the newest location on the Central Coast. The Kincumber shop and warehouse opened on the Central Coast at the end of 2020. Together with an additional 20 community volunteer positions, the new location is offering 25 NDIS employment positions for people with disability.
For carers like Robyn and for people with disability, The Sewing Basket offers much more than just a job. The growing social enterprise is a place of freedom, acceptance and belonging. “All the time I was employed, I’ve never said this but it’s a joy to come to work, I really love it,” says Robyn.