No space? No tools? No problem!

I love looking at sites like Pinterest and the YouTube channels spearheading the “makers revolution”: seeing the incredible creativity of some humans – especially when they are transforming things that might otherwise be destined for landfill. But I hate feeling like a bystander, having neither the space or the tools, and possibly lacking the confidence to become a maker myself. Continue reading “No space? No tools? No problem!”

Our Saw-Some Soapbox

Most job descriptions don’t include “drive a wooden car made in three weeks down a massive ramp, over four jumps in front of 1200 people”.  However in my second month working with Handcrafted, this is one of the unexpected things I have done.

Along with the other teams, we had two attempts to get down to the bottom of the 450 metre track at Herrington Country Park as quickly as possible. This wasn’t without a shortage of drama, mechanical changes and spectacular crashes. Continue reading “Our Saw-Some Soapbox”

Downhill all the Way at the North East Soap Box Challenge

Prince, Michael Jackson and David Bowie needed a spanner to fix their coffin …

What’s the punchline?

Wait … no. This actually happened?


It’s Saturday, August the 18th at Herrington Country Park, and pit crews are making last-minute adjustments to their vehicles before they run the challenging downhill skidaddle of the North East’s inaugural Soap Box Challenge. Continue reading “Downhill all the Way at the North East Soap Box Challenge”

The Power of Suggestion

There isn’t a roadmap for what we are doing at Handcrafted. We have a clear sense of our mission to restore and empower people through training in the context of a creative and inclusive community. We know that there’s always room for improvement and innovation. In formal meetings and casual conversations, we are preoccpied with how we can adapt to do it better. Everyone who comes along to be part of the journey has a stake in that.

Empowering people means not ‘doing stuff to and for them’ but enabling them to take initiative and determine how they will thrive and become the’ best version of themselves’. Over the last few weeks we asked our trainees to give Handcrafted some feedback and suggestions for improvement. After all, if it’s not working for the people it’s here for, what is the point in doing it? Continue reading “The Power of Suggestion”

Christmas Fayre 2017

The culmination of a few months of planning and creating seasonal products, our annual Christmas Fayre this year surpassed all the previous ones in the quantity and quality of products on offer and the amount we raised. When it comes to the intangibles, the conversations, the atmosphere, the encouraging stories and the sense of pride – the stuff that really matters – we have been overwhelmed with the response.

Continue reading “Christmas Fayre 2017”

Love You to the Moon and Back

A trip to the handcrafted workshop may not be on the list of ‘things to do’ for many prospective bride and grooms but it certainly was for Jimi and Megan.

They asked for our help to create a special something for their reception.  Whilst most couples getting married hope their wedding day will be ‘out of this world’ this pair ensured it, guaranteeing themselves and their guests a star studded occasion when they held their ceremony in a planetarium.

Continue reading “Love You to the Moon and Back”

Lights … Camera … and More Lights

It was a proud moment for Handcrafted trainee, Ade, to see his handiwork on television several hours after it was completed and installed in the Old Church at Sacriston.

Give me a ‘D’!

Standing about a meter high, Ade’s illuminated letters formed the backdrop to celebrations at Dan and Kim’s wedding reception. The couple had opted to serve guests with delicious ‘wasted’ food that would otherwise have been thrown out by local supermarkets. Not surprisingly, the story attracted the news hounds.

In the first few seconds of the TV footage, the camera took in a sweeping scene with Ade’s glowing marquee lettering making a stunning background.

Building this project was a team effort, with staff and several volunteers stepping up to help Ade. Specific projects with a definite goal in sight energise the workshop as everyone pulls together and puts pride in their work. However, this story also depicts the first step into exploring a new enterprise idea for one of our trainees.

As we see people grow an attitude of “can do” through making stuff in our workshop, many of our long-term out-of-work trainees begin to think of doing something they are good at as a possible career. Handcrafted Enterprise stream then ensures they have the right support to do a business plan, test their idea, find a market and access funds that are available to help them get started.

The verdict on the lettering? Spectacular!

Ade said, “The best thing was seeing the bride’s face light up when she saw the letters.”

Nice one, Ade. Six letters of the alphabet completed: only twenty more to go!