Spend time to yourself, chatting to friendly people, learning new skills and making things like chocolate truffles! writes Josie Armitage.
Intrigued by the name of the group, Sassy Divas, I booked a place for myself and my sister Trisha Cawood at the Chocolate Workshop at Bramley Lawn. It was a while since we had met up and we both love chocolate.
We were greeted by Julie Botham, one of the four ladies who set up the Creative Communities Leeds CIC, the group that runs the Sassy Divas workshops for ladies 16+.
Julie gave us our prepared name badges and explained a little bit about the group and how the workshop would run. We were invited to help ourselves to coffee/tea and cake.
We sat down and chatted until the rest of the ladies arrived, reading through the instructions for Chocolate Truffle making to prepare ourselves.
Julie took charge and started the workshop and split the 15 of us into groups, depending on whether we wanted to make milk or dark chocolate truffles.
We were in the milk chocolate group. Each group started the process of truffle making, warming up double cream, pouring it over the chocolate to melt it and stirring it until it was smooth. Elbow grease needed!
We then had to wait an hour while the ganache was in the fridge to harden enough to make into truffle shapes. The hour passed quickly with time for more coffee and cake and having a chat with the Sassy Divas who all made us feel welcome.
We spoke to Julie who told us a bit more about how the group came about. She set up Creative Communities Leeds CIC with three other ladies to get out of the house and stop herself feeling socially isolated at home, despite working and having a family. They all have different skills.
They wanted something to do for themselves with the opportunity to chat and get to know other ladies in similar situations. Creative Communities Leeds is a not for profit social enterprise with the aim to provide support to people who are or may be at risk of social isolation.
“Coming along to the workshops helps ladies with social isolation and gets you out of the house. The workshops help ladies with their mental health. We have a bit of a laugh and learn something.
“If ladies come on their own, we always make sure that they are sat with someone who will welcome them and chat to them. “
There is a core group of ladies who attend every month, with new ones like us taking part. I spoke to Lorraine Ferguson and Jill Waterhouse who come along to the monthly workshops to make sure they meet up regularly to have a chat, have fun and learn something new.
They’ve made wax wraps, Christmas baubles, dream catchers, mosaics and macramé at the workshops, among other things.
“I saw the group on Facebook and my friend Jill comes to the workshops. I’ve had an awful year with depression and anxiety. Gill said she would pick me up as I wouldn’t have come on my own.
“It’s really helped with my mental health. It’s such a good idea for people to get together and to get to know everybody. We make nice things, some of which don’t turn out well.”
Lorraine is now confident to attend the Sassy Divas daytime sessions which take place on two Thursdays every month at Bramley Community Centre.
We were then called back into action as it was time to roll our sleeves up and shape the truffles. This took a while as the milk chocolate team as the ganache made loads of truffles. We put them back in the fridge for short while and washed our messy, chocolatey hands.
While the truffle shapes were firming up in the fridge, we each put together our gift boxes ready to take some truffles home – a challenge for some of us including me!
We also prepared the decorations ready to roll the truffles in.
The next stage was ready. We took the truffles out of the fridge and rolled them into truffle ball shapes and left them at room temperature to firm up further. Julie carried out a demonstration of decorating the truffles by rolling them in the decorations (gold powder, freeze dried raspberry pieces, original cocoa and chocolate sprinkles) and putting them in tiny cases. Teresa and Trisha were volunteered to help with the demonstration.
We all then decorated the truffles, and all put plenty in our gift boxes to take home. We helped to clear up. Washing all the pots had taken place throughout the workshop.
Each workshop costs £8 to cover the cost of the materials needed. All the money goes back into the workshops so quality materials are provided.
This was £8 well spent for the opportunity to catch up with my sister, spend a few hours meeting and chatting to Sassy Diva ladies and to learn a new skill with the products to take home.
We are new Divas and have already booked to the next evening workshop where we will be making Hand Poured Vintage Candles on 11 March. My sister Trisha said:
“I really enjoyed the group. Thanks for making us feel really welcome.”
The Sassy Divas run monthly workshops on an evening at Bramley Lawn and two daytime workshops on Thursdays each month at Bramley Community Centre.
Why not go along to a workshop where you will be made to feel welcome, meet new people, have a friendly chat and learn a new skill.
The Daytime Divas next daytime workshop is making Spring Wreaths on 27th February.
Visit the Facebook page for more information.