First Fashion Forever Festival all sewn up with support from National Lottery funding

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, a local environmental charity based in Belfast recently put the finishing touches on its first Fashion Forever Festival. The event, which ran as a series of free online and in-person workshops and talks from 21 November to 15 December, unfolded courtesy of £9,920 funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.

Image via Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful

Fashion Forever, the environmental group’s programme for tackling textiles waste, used the funding to host a festival that focused on encouraging people to fall back in love with the clothes and textiles that they already own, all of which helps to reduce textile waste and protect our environment.

With events like ‘Create A Tote Bag from An Old T-Shirt’ and ‘Learn The Art of Visible Mending’, the festival created opportunities for hundreds of local people to develop their sartorial skills, find out the best ways to deal with their textile waste, and explore the world of pre-loved clothing.

The festival also included the launch of a collaborative ‘Repair Project’ in association with Ulster University just before Christmas, which encouraged students and staff to pick up a needle and thread and make their mark on a large piece of fabric that showcased repairing and mending for a sustainable future.

Siobhan Purnell, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful Tackling Textiles Coordinator, said: “Fashion should not cost the earth, yet, as an industry, it is the second highest polluting in the world. We want to thank the National Lottery Players, as this grant allowed us to raise awareness of the environmental impact of textile waste and fast fashion, and encouraged communities to examine their relationship with clothes.

“We also wanted to promote opportunities for a circular-fashion economy at the festival, and we hope it’s made a big difference to people’s lives.”

Textile waste is a key challenge in tackling the climate crisis, requiring local, national, and international attention as a growing pollution issue. Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful launched the festival during the European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) in a bid to generate greater focus on the problem.

Kate Beggs, Northern Ireland Director of The National Lottery Community Fund said: “We’re pleased to support this project which is raising awareness of the pollution and environmental impact resulting from textile waste by organising Northern Ireland’s first Sustainable Fashion Week.

“Thanks to National Lottery players, we are able to support local climate action, funding innovative projects that are part of the drive towards net zero and that enable people and communities to thrive.”

National Lottery players raise over £30 million a week for good causes across the UK.

During the pandemic, in 2020 alone, The National Lottery Community Fund distributed almost £1 billion to charities and community organisations across the UK.

To find out more about The National Lottery Community Fund, visit You can find Fashion Forever on Instagram by searching for the handle @fashionforeverni.

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