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Sewing for justice: There are craftivists holding 'stitch-ins' to make M&S pay the living wage

Written by
Alexi Duggins

Take the word 'activist', add in some craft and what have you got? A craftivist. Someone who likes to use their needlework to try to change the world for the better. And last night two dozen of them were sitting outside M&S in Islington sewing whilst surrounded by picnic blankets, home-made cupcakes, a full teapot ensconced in one of their own-knitted cosies and kids reaching into tins of jam sandwiches. It's the first of a nationwide tour of 'stitch-ins' that'll see them doing the same thing outside Marks & Spencer's stores in Cardiff, Brighton, Glasgow, Birmingham and loads more in an attempt to convince the shop to pay its staff the living wage.

Each craftivist has researched a member of the M&S executive board and is sewing a message onto a hanky for their chosen member. They've bought shares in the company so that – along with pressure group ShareAction – they can attend the company's AGM and present the hankies to the board members in front of all their share-holders and plead with them to pay their staff well. 

'Most of us love a bit of M&S', smiles Chief Craftivist Sarah Corbett. 'Look at us: we're all wearing M&S today. But it's important to us to know that they're a company who treats their staff well.'

One woman is sewing a hanky for a board member called Martha, which is purple after she found out that it was the businesswoman's favourite colour. Another has printed a picture of a board member and his brother onto the hanky and personalised it with a sikh quote, as this is his religion. One lady is stitching a quote for their chief finance officer, so her quote choice is Anita Roddick's 'being good is good for business.'

It's utterly adorable. It's a campaign that has its heart in the right place and it's something which – if M&S board members have the slightest bit of heart – should definitely succeed. Fingers crossed their upcoming stitch-ins are packed to the seams. They should be. 

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