Narrator’s Voice: We’ve been running a workshop in Gateshead since January 2017, practically working out our conviction that the Handcrafted way of doing things can have a powerful effect in other localities. Initially open for just 8 hours a week, and running bicycle repair courses alongside woodworking in a small workshop, we were helped by a lot of interest from other organisations and began to settle into a niche that offered something new and made a big difference to our first brave group of pioneering trainees. You can read about the early days here.
Having moved to a new space in April this year, the project has picked up momentum and the time has come for it to have its own Project Development Officer, someone with the unique mix of passion, creativity, compassion and practical smarts to take things to the next level.
Even though our trainees keep telling us that they are pleasantly surprised how friendly and inclusive our workshop is when they first come along, those first impressions are so important. It’s like day one in a new job or school: you don’t know what to expect and if you are going to fit in okay.
Adam landed on day one with a skateboard under his arm. This wasn’t his main method of transport for getting to the workshop but a lifelong passion he’s had since the age of six. Together with his previous experience as a joinery apprentice, he was rearing to take things to the next level.
When I first heard the words ‘Kentucy Stick Chair’ it was hard to dismiss the image of a piece of furniture somehow constructed from pieces of deep-fried chicken. It turned out that what we were really talking about was no less extraordinary.
The original Kentucky Stick Chairs would have been made from humble sticks and slung together with rope. All that would have been needed was a saw and a way to make holes in wood – a perfect example of ‘off grid’ innovation. Our chairs are made with cut timber and threaded bar, but they stay true to the spirit of their ancestors by using whatever is to hand and keeping the original simplicity of the design. Continue reading “Backwoods Ingenuity: The Kentucky Stick Chair”
Every day, we hear stories, big and small, that give us confidence that Handcrafted Projects is making a real difference to real people. We want to meet the people we can help and give them the best possible opportunity to join us.
Recently, we looked again at how many people actually came along to our Durham workshop in the last few years. The figures are encouraging. In four years we went from seeing 68 individual trainees using the workshop in a year to 119 – that’s 175% growth in the number of people we reached.
Then we asked a tougher question: “How many people stick around”.
We start each day in our workshop by gathering everyone together for what has come to be known as ‘the huddle’. It’s the time when we chat through the day ahead, discuss plans, ask for or offer to help and of course share any news. We’ve recently shared a couple of stories on our blog and via Facebook about some of our trainees and we were telling the huddle just how popular these had been, and asked if anyone else would like to tell their story. Without hesitation Paul said he’d be up for it and so here it is
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.
Graham is a regular at Handcrafted; if you were to ever visit our workshop he’d definitely be one of the first guys to come and introduce himself and see if he could help you in anyway. You’d be forgiven for feeling he was one of life’s naturally outgoing and confident people, but the journey he’s been on to arrive at this point hasn’t been without some pretty dramatic twists and turns. He explains:
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.
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.