2005 – 2010
We started as a small group of women, from various different cultural backgrounds who met through WEA (for whom we are grateful to for advice and support in those early days). As a group we shared ideas, skills and a common interest in sewing and handwork and so became Common Threads and began to meet weekly at Merkinch Community Centre, Inverness.
The group took turns to teach each other traditional skills. These included Nakshi Kantha, Jordanian embroidery, shisham embroidery, sashiko, patchwork, quilting, felting, bead work, knitting and crochet.
The Group created a Diversity Quilt, which was displayed in various public spaces and then hung in the front Foyer at Merkinch Community Centre. We were then asked to help construct two panels, designed by an artist, to hang in the Skinner Room at the centre.
We regularly shared special meals together and offered samples to other community groups within the centre. This led to informal cooking demonstrations and cooking requests from other organisations and larger scale events such as International Women’s Day.
During the schools mid term breaks we organised activities for children, often inviting others to join in.
2010 – 2012
In response to requests for us to form a parallel group for those not interested in sewing, but keen to meet other friends, we moved to SHIMCA’s premises at 1 Ardconnel Terrace. Although we were very sad to leave our friends at Merkinch Community Centre, we needed the flexibility that the fledgling Multicultural Centre could offer.
We worked closely with SHIMCA on several joint events and initiatives and attended workshops organised by CEMVO. We helped raise money to put in a ramped access gate and a lockable shed to store pushchairs.
We soon had a weekly timetable of activities including ESOL (English as a second or other language) sewing, cookery, a Toddler group and a monthly children’s Reading Club.
In 2011 we started the process of registering ourselves as a formal organisation, choosing the name ‘Highland Multicultural Friends’ and creating a constitution.
In 2012 we were registered with OSCR as a SCIO, Scottish Charity Number 43200. Shortly after that, we were awarded a grant of £6660 from Awards for All.
2013 – present
As numbers attending our various groups grew, we found that the Centre was no longer big enough to accommodate us, nor adequate for the busy cooking club. We moved into the Cameron Youth Centre in January 2013.
We added a fitness class to the weekly programme and explored dance and exercise of many styles.
Although the children’s reading club and after school club were no longer possible due to other bookings in the space we organised various all age children’s events during this time and were able to restart the Multicultural Kids club again in 2017.
In 2014 we started a ‘Stay and Play’ mums and toddler group on Wednesdays which is still running. In 2014 we also launched our Multicultural Cookbook
We continue to run International Women’s Day activities as well as a range of other small and large scale events.
Our current programme of regular activities includes ESOL classes, sewing, women’s fitness, food and friendship, Mandarin language class, kids club and a new baby group.