A VINTAGE clothing shop owner used her background in the prison service as inspiration for setting up her new store.
Passionate Helen Truman has collected clothes for more than 40 years but it was while working as a creative arts tutor at the former HMP Brockhill which really piqued her interest.
Helen, who owns independent shop ‘Vintage Threads’, based in the vacant space behind the Post Office and Debenhams in Redditch town centre, worked with young female offenders in 2003 and 2004.
“We received an £11k grant from the Youth Justice Board which I used to set up a karaoke programme at the prison to try and help these women channel their demons in a therapeutic way,” said Helen.
“We got them out of their hoodies and onto the stage in glamorous outfits, which we either made ourselves or purchased from charity shops.
“The opportunity to sing in front of a crowd gave them something to look forward to and took their minds off problems in their own life.”
Helen remembers fondly a pair of Irish girls who insisted on dressing head to toe in their nation’s colours as they performed.
“It definitely inspired me to use clothes as a way of boosting a person’s wellbeing and that is what I am trying to do at Vintage Threads too.
“It doesn’t matter if it is a guitarist from a local band who needs to get lost in their character on stage by wearing a vibrant outfit or simply a local resident looking for a nice shirt – we have it all.”
Among Vintage Thread’s collection, which Helen says is just the ‘tip of the iceberg’ compared to what she has at home, there are psychedelic outfits, old school shoes and a cashmere suit which dates back to the early 1900s.
Opening alongside Vintage Trax, the shop also offers footwear, accessories and repairs and alterations.
Helen added: “It’s all about having fun – so come and try something which you would never normally wear.”