We’ve been reflecting recently about how people started to come along to Handcrafted in the first place. Tom told us how he began to get involved.
“I’d been unemployed for a few years and one day when I was at the Job Centre they told me that I’d needed to go on a course and sent me to Groundworks. I went along and the people there suggested a placement at Handcrafted. I‘d not heard of Handcrafted before, so asked around and heard they were a local charity doing woodwork and gardening that had been started by some people who went to one of the local churches. This made me wonder if it would be all Bible thumping and singing ‘Kum ba yah’. I couldn’t have been more wrong! All of the team and the lads that went along were perfectly normal and just wanted to help people get on and do practical stuff. I really enjoy woodwork, but when I first started to go there wasn’t much space in the workshop so I spent most of my time down at the gardening project.
When my six month’s compulsory placement was up, I’d enjoyed it so much I asked if I could come back. I was pleased when they said ‘yes’ because they are such warm people, friendly people; they make you welcome. You slot in alright with everyone, they’re a great bunch and if they can, they’ll help you out. So that’s how I came to Handcrafted and I’ve been coming for two years now.”
We asked him ‘what has been the high point for you so far?’
“I’d say, when you’re making something for a client and you do a good job and they say thank you. The other high points are that I’m amongst a good bunch of lads, we all get on well.”
Because he’s been around for a while, Tom often takes the newer lads under your wing. How does he find that?
“I find it okay. I don’t mind doing it. I show them how to use the tools, and help them start off making something, often a chopping board; and more recently showing them how to make pens on the lathe, just how to do this and that.”
If someone was asking about Handcrafted, maybe they’ve been looking at Facebook or the website and wanted to know if they should come along, what would you say? If they thought they were too shy or didn’t know how good they would be, what would your advice be?
“I would definitely come because it doesn’t matter if you’re shy or not. There’s a guy who’s been coming along for about three months and he was really shy. He never spoke. I went over to him and chatted with him. Eventually, as time has gone on, he’s opened right up. He’s starting doing all sorts in the workshop and is now really open and friendly.”