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My Q&A: Dressmaker Joyce Addai-Davis discusses her dressmaking inspiration and apprenticeships for young people

PUBLISHED: 17:00 17 November 2018

Joyce Addai-Davis, whose dressmaking workshops help to empower women from black, asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. Picture: Nazli Kale

Joyce Addai-Davis, whose dressmaking workshops help to empower women from black, asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. Picture: Nazli Kale

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Joyce Addai-Davis is a dressmaker who aims to empower women from black, asian and minority ethnic backgrounds (BAME) through her dressmaking workshops.

Joyce Addai-Davis, whose dressmaking workshops help to empower women from black, asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. Picture: Nazli KaleJoyce Addai-Davis, whose dressmaking workshops help to empower women from black, asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. Picture: Nazli Kale

She spoke to reporter Basit Mahmood about her dressmaking inspiration.

What’s your connection with the borough?

My mother decided to buy a house in Dagenham after selling our three-bed in Plaistow back in 2008. It was hard moving after spending 19 years in east London, however, after a few months in Dagenham it was as if we didn’t move.

What’s the best thing about working or living in the borough?

The best thing about working and living in the borough is the library and the different facilities available. I also love the melting pot of different ethnicities and cultures within the borough – this is apparent in our grocery stores and restaurants.

What one thing would you change?

Flytipping and litter on our streets.

Use three words to describe the area.

Historical, community-led and homely.

Who is the most inspiring person you have ever met?

My sewing teacher Maria Fidalgo. She is an 84 year couturiére (dressmaker) who came to the UK in the late 70s from Portugal. Since her arrival she’s been teaching and making clothes for the Royal family, actresses, singers and TV personalities. She shows no signs of stopping, which is beyond inspiring for me.

What new law would you introduce if you were prime minister?

I would enforce a law for those who drop out of school at the age of 16. A mandatory workplace learning or apprenticeship would be enforced. If not, their parents would face large fines and the children forced into juvenile programme centres that will nurture and encourage them to train in soft skills like self-esteem and personal development.

If you were the editor of this paper, what issues in the borough would you focus on?

I would focus on those in the community that are making a difference, and I would promote their businesses. If they have opportunities or classes that help our community, I would bring them to the limelight.

There is an old saying that if you focus on the negatives they grow stronger, but if you focus on the solutions to the negatives, the issues reduce.

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