This is the smiling face of Andy, who says one of the best things about being involved in Handcrafted is helping to renovate the two-bedroom flat that he is going to move in to.
Doing this renovation is one of the first things Andy has done “for himself” since he arrived in the workshop and got stuck in straight away, making things for friends and family. His day-one project was to create a model bus to put on his father’s grave.
Helping doing projects for other people … It’s just the way everything is; I feel very relaxed here. There are some nice people here. We have a laugh.
He’s convinced that, among other things it has helped with depression.
If I wasn’t here, I’d just be stuck in the house wouldn’t I? Just stuck in the house, not doing anything, stuck in depression mode.
Instead, Andy hones in on the opportunity he has here to earn qualifications. He is working towards recognised certificates in bike maintenance and woodwork.
It’s going to be nice getting a certificate, because I’ve never had nothing like that. I’m 47 years old and I’ve never had no certificates or anything. That’s just the way it was for us.
He points out how not everyone is good at reading and writing, but he’s trying to do something about that and not letting it hold him back any more.
Andy will become our newest resident when he moves into the flat that he is helping to renovate at the moment along with another trainee and one of our instructors, Matt. He’s found the renovations especially interesting, and speaking to him about it, you can see that he’s grown in confidence and begun to dream about greater possibilities in his life.
I’m learning new things every day. It’s going to make a difference to me, knowing that I can do something, like a trade. And it’s surprising, you see , because I’d never done it, didn’t think I’d ever be able to do it … I made a lot of different things for people. The first thing I made for myself in the workshop was that wishing well to go in the garden at my new property.
It seems poetic that, three months after starting to come along to the workshop, Andy gets his wish for a place to call home, a whole set of tangible new skills and abilites, and only then does he make the wishing well. We find that supporting people here is not about having unrealistic dreams and hoping for good luck and magic but about hand-crafting your own future.
We don’t expect it to be a picnic in the park. Everyone experiences setbacks and difficult times, but having a community and some activity has proven time and again to help people to bounce back. Andy recently lost him Mum, and he speaks to me very honestly about how it takes time to get over things like that. He admits he’s “had a few knocks in life”. However, getting away from old places and unhealthy relationships was a turning point for him. He comes back to the theme of needing to do things for your own sake:
I can’t belive it’s nearly four months now, without a drink. Going back to AA, not being forced to do it but going because I wanted to, it was the best thing that ever happened, you know? I’m not waking up in the morning wanting a drink. I have my life back.
It’s just a lovely feeling taking pride in what you’re doing. I’ve never had anything like that. I thought I was ‘not very bright’ but I’m learning things now and I’d like to do more with it.