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WHEN Candice Addicoat helped a teenager pay for her food at an overcrowded food court in 2012, she had no idea it would be the first step to helping low-income earners design spaces they love.
The teen, who was in crisis accommodation, sat next to Candice while eating her food and told her about the stains on the carpet, varying smells and loose nails.
“The bedsitter she was put in was in really bad condition,” says Candice, 45, of Griffith.
“She came from an unsafe home, she already had depression and even though she was safe from the home, the space didn’t help with her depression.”
So Candice, who is a qualified interior designer, went there a few times a week and together they transformed the area.
“We turned the space around but it also turned her around as well,” she says.
“At the end of the makeover she had become really chatty and animated.”
Candice has since done a handful of similar projects on her own but felt she wasn’t getting enough done.
“I was concerned with some of our community spaces and services becoming tired without the funding to fix them up,” she says.
With the help of a group of long-term unemployed volunteers, Candice recently gave Charnwood’s community centre an uplift.
“I took groups of long-term unemployed people to a tired community space and taught them design and decorating skills,” she says.
“I’ve stepped back from that for now because I’m putting into place a number of supervisors and designers to get out to projects.”
But even with big plans for the future, Candice still makes time to do “mini projects” such as her current one, which is transforming a unit in Oaks Estate.
It was organised by St Vincent de Paul, who is caring for people in the space and wanted to engage the residents with the project.
“They wanted to do something with the residents that meant improving their space and improving their skills,” she says.
Keen to get on to an estate where she can teach residents design skills on site Candice is excited about the project, which she believes will take just over a month to finish.
“I want to prove it’s affordable and achievable and I want to take this space with its poos and needles and turn it into a villa,” she says.
Candice says the flat, which is from the ’70s, was in a really bad condition with needles and faeces everywhere.
She’s already ripped out the carpet in preparation for its new Tuscan villa-inspired design but at the moment is working on getting rid of the smell.
Everything she uses is affordable such as her handmade tiles, which she plans to use for an artwork.
Each tile costs her about four cents to make and is made out of a broken necklace, a tablecloth, sticky tape and glue.
She also uses low-cost, recyclable items such as paper and cardboard to make things such as faux brick walls.
As for the rest of the stuff, she’s lucky to also be sponsored by The Green Shed, so she’s got plenty of choice between them and Vinnies.
And, The Green Shed has even provided her with a space in Mitchell for a studio she’s called Re-Psyched where she plans to hold workshops in the future.
“As a designer I try and look at what’s currently on trend in the design world and try to produce it in a way that anyone can do it,” she says.
“When we start engaging people here, maybe it’ll give them an idea and energy on what they can do.
“The idea is that if we can get into people’s spaces and improve them, it might improve their outlook and motivation.
“I’m not giving them something they have to commit to for a long time or put too much skill into.”
When coming up with the design for the unit Candice has taken into account what might best suit the residents’ needs.
“Some residents do have issues with mental health, so I’ve tried to come up with solutions so if they can’t clean up too regularly, it won’t look too bad,” she says.
And, once the unit is complete, she will be using the design as a launch for her workshops.
“They’ll be about making simple and affordable things with recycling and they’ll be accessible to anyone,” she says.