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
“My story with Handcrafted started when I was living in a hostel known locally as The Fells. In there, I met a couple of the lads who were regulars at Handcrafted. I wasn’t going out or doing much of anything as, at the time, I was suffering severe depression and anxiety, something I still battle with today. This was made worse by the fact that I was awaiting trial; I did not expect to get sent down but I did receive a prison sentence. When I got out of jail I moved in with my sister. I got in touch with one of the friends I’d made at the hostel and he encouraged me to get along to Handcrafted, I decided to give it a try and I found it fantastic. It was getting me out of the house and giving me something to do because normally, as soon as my sister went to work, I would just close the curtains and listen to the radio all day. Sometimes my anxiety was so bad it would be a couple of weeks before I’d go out of the house at all. That’s how bad it was once over.
But coming to Handcrafted, it’s great, it’s given me a new lease of life and I’ve made lots of new friends. It’s not all about woodwork, we have some great laughs and we all sit and have lunch together. They hold summer and Christmas fayres where you can sell things that you’ve made to raise funds or you can make things to take home for yourself. It’s like a little community with everyone together. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past or how you are at the present, everyone’s treated the same, that’s the great thing about it. Last year I went through the mill and everyone’s just been there for me when I’ve been really down, which has been quite a lot, but when I come here it gives me a boost. Now I’m coming nearly every day whereas once over I’d only come maybe once a fortnight because my depression was that bad. But the lads would say, ‘Come on, everyone’s missing you’.
So now I’ve started coming most days, I make something, or try to make something, because I’m not the greatest at woodwork, but there’s good help and advice there. I was shown how to use the lathe and made a pen for my sister and she was over the moon with it, she uses it all of the time and always tells people that I made it for her. It feels good to be part of things and I like to help out when I can.
For me the best thing is that it gets me out of the house – I’m not sitting in the house thinking about things, having bad thoughts. Without this place, I don’t know where I’d be now. I don’t think I’d be here and that’s my story so far.
I hope to be able to move into one of the Handcrafted houses because I know I need to make a change in life at the moment and to move forward a bit more.”
We’re so proud of the progress Paul has made, watching him grow in confidence as well as skill has been fantastic.