The accidental woodworker: Lauren’s Story

At Handcrafted we do our very best to offer a really warm welcome for all who come along, no matter how people came to find us.  Over the years we’ve been continually blessed by the wide variety of routes by which people have made their way to our workshop – word of mouth, referrals from local hostels, GP’s, Community Policing and the Probation Service, churches, food banks, rehab, community centres and even curious passers-by – it’s all been such a privilege.


Continue reading “The accidental woodworker: Lauren’s Story”

What a difference a day makes: Dean’s Story

We’re continually inspired by the progress made and the creativity unlocked as trainees get involved with Handcrafted.  We asked Dean if we could share his story on our blog, and this is it, in his own words.

“I had a longstanding alcohol problem that had been going on for a number of years.  It cost me everything – my relationship with partners, contact with my children, job, driving licence, car, and my own business. Eventually this led to homelessness.

Continue reading “What a difference a day makes: Dean’s Story”

Breaking Cycles at our Popup Workshop in Gateshead

It’s 10am. Greg is giving a trainee hints about starting his own bike repair business: how to avoid handling stolen bikes and the tools and equipment that he will need.

There’s a relaxed atmosphere that seems a million miles from any classroom I’ve ever sat in – but teaching and learning is happening here. The work of the day is getting under way. Over the next few hours one of the trainees (Si) will strip down an old bike, replace worn parts and rebuild it to be safe and roadworthy.

Greg tells me they always start with the brakes. That strikes me as a good principle for getting a life back on track, “start with the brakes”, and it’s happening here. The project offers the opportunity for people to call a halt to the destructive cycles in their lives, and rebuild from the basics. Continue reading “Breaking Cycles at our Popup Workshop in Gateshead”

Medical Research

We are encouraged that the news of Handcrafted is spreading. This week, Wannie and her fellow students visited the workshop. She goes on to explain…

“As first year medical students we were asked to write an assignment on health inequalities and the relationship between social class and health. After hearing about the work of Handcrafted is doing helping people to get back into employment and inhousing the homeless we thought they would be the perfect charity to gain insight into.

After visiting the workshop and talking to the people using the services we were blown away by how the workers go above and beyond for the vulnerable people that enter their doors. Not only does the charity practically help people learn new skills but also empowers and gives them the confidence to face their challenge. Engaging in the workshop also acts as a source of therapy for some of the men who may have struggled with mental health issues.

Handcrafted is a perfect example of how charities can help some of the most disadvantaged in society have a fresh start!”

Meet Luke!

Luke came to us in the summer of 2016 from a homeless hostel. He struggled with this environment, feeling cut off from the outside world and facing financial challenges which often meant he struggled to buy food for the day.
He was encouraged to come to Handcrafted by another on of our trainee’s, Luke said at first he only came along for the free lunch which is provided everyday but then, as time went on, he found it to be a great way to get out of the hostel more and he really enjoyed the community aspect of our workshop. Luke has just recently moved into one of our houses and now has more independence, managing his money better and is reconnecting with his old friends.

Luke said…

Moving into a house has made me realise how helpful Handcrafted is, not just on the housing front, but social as well. It has made me appreciate Handcrafted so much more

Cooking up a Storm!

We love hearing stories of how people are getting involved to raise money for Handcrafted. Jacob and Susie decided to bake cookies and sell them in their house. They raised £20!!! Whether it’s something big like a sponsored marathon or small like a cookie sale, you really can make a huge difference!

If you would like to get involved in fundraising for Handcrafted, we would love to hear from you – click here to email us

Confidence built, mood lifted.

Trevor is one of our trainees who has been coming along to Handcrafted since March 2016.  We asked him what difference Handcrafted has made in his life…

“A friend tried to get me to go to Handcrafted for 18 months. People told me I was no good so I didn’t come. Then I thought I would have a go of it and see what it’s like. When I did my first project I found out I could do a lot of things. I also suffer from mental health, although it is up and down, most of the time I’m okay now. I have built my confidence and it has lifted my mood.”

Canadian Connection

Dylan moved to the UK all the way from Canada and started volunteering with us through an internship placement with his Church.

Back home, Dylan really enjoyed woodwork and told us how excited he was about putting his skills into practice…

“I love how Handcrafted provides a place for people to come from any background and experience and learn a new skill they can carry into life. I also love that it doesn’t matter what they have been through, they are always welcome. Handcrafted provides a jump start for them to get ahead and out of whatever situation they are in”

And now, a word from one of our supporters …

Our regular supporters have the opportunity to spend half a day with us in the workshop, to get the “Handcrafted Experience”, make something, and meet our trainees. This week, Renee and Adam joined us and brought Dad along too. We took the opportunity to ask Renee what motivated her to make a regular financial commitment to our work. Now we are glowing!


Here’s what she said:

We came along to the celebration evening in the Summer, but we already loved the vision of the project: the combination of mentoring, teaching skills and investing in people. In particular, I love the training that equips people to produce something of worth.

Since the project is also faith based, I like the fact that, when people open up, there’s an opportunity for them to be prayed for, or to come to church.

As a result, some of these guys now have growing, healing relationships with family and friends they had once been estranged from. The project feels like its influence goes beyond just introducing a new skill set; it goes on to impact the entire lives of the trainees.

My dad is a wood worker, and I love what is produced here. I believe we were designed as humans to make things, and that creativity brings peace and healing.

There are so many aspects of handcrafted that fit together together: I love everything about the heart behind it, the strategy behind it and how attention is given to where people are coming from and what works best for them. I love the discernment and sensitivity shown in partnering with trainees to meet them where they are and supporting them to be better equipped and empowered … even providing opportunities to do things with their kids, to create a stronger bond.

I like the way the day is structured and the workshop feels like a safe place to be known, to get hands-on experience, producing something to be proud of. It feels comfortable and inspiring.


Find out how you could support our projects on a regular basis.

Dyed in the wool NUFC supporter caught red and white handed

We’re breaking down barriers at handcrafted!

Anyone who has been in the Northeast for more than a week or two knows there is no love lost between rival fans of the two biggest local teams. The rivalry gives rise to plenty of banter in the workshop.

Mark has been a Newcastle United supporter all his life, for better or (more recently) for worse. We’ve had to keep a constant supply of black and white paint on order, so that he can complete his projects with their characteristic monochrome livery. So it wasn’t for lack of paint that we found Mark choosing the colours of “the other team” for his latest creation.

Red and White

Our trainees enjoy the opportunity to make for themselves the things they need, but they also get the means to make gifts for others. When he decided to make a chess board for a friend from Sunderland, Mark found himself reaching for the red paint in an unprecedented gesture of generosity.

Sixty four red and white squares later, Mark had to take a tactical break. The last time I spoke to him, he was painting a badger…