Staff and trustees spent a day at the start of this year talking about what makes Handcrafted tick. We asked how we could make sure we keep working on those fundamentals and find evidence that they are turning into actions, more than warm, fuzzy feelings (although those are nice, too).
We all agreed that “Inclusion” should be right up in our top five. That means we work hard to remove barriers to people benefiting from what we do. But how can we show that this is happening?
Lack of access to transport would prevent many of our trainees from participating at handcrafted, or even just getting on with their lives in a way many of us would take for granted. They may not be able to afford it, live away from a viable bus route, have a disability, or any other reason. We meet this head on by doing a lot of driving.
Last week, we tracked the miles driven just to get people to the workshop or help them to access health or social services during an ‘ordinary week’.
We invited our facebook followers to guess how many miles we drove. Answers ranged from 298 to 355. Amazingly, one guess (298) was uncannily close. In total, we actually drove 296 miles. This was over 60 individual journeys.
However, the measure we really wanted was how many miles we transported people (‘Inclusivity Miles’). For instance, if, on one trip, we collected Jim, Tom and Mark and brought them to the workshop, we recorded how many miles each of them travelled. Cut like this, we came up with 629 miles of travel to make sure people got included.
Of course, it’s not just about the figures. Those journeys also represent precious time to chat, catch up on news, offer pastoral support, build community, and sing along to 80s hits! Some of our best moments happen on those road trips.
So, where were we going? Here are some pie slices that tell it better than words.
The lion’s share of our driving is to get people to the workshop in the morning and home at the end of the day. We know that getting here would be really difficult for some, yet being here is a lifeline. Brian told us,
“Since moving out of a homelessness hostel I have moved ten miles from the Handcrafted workshop. I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and getting to the workshop would involve catching three buses, which does not help my anxiety. I get picked up from home, I get lunch, and I get dropped home at the end of the day. If I didn’t have this, I would be on my own, isolated, seven days a week. Coming here really helps me to get my mind away from negative thought patterns.”
Not everyone we look out for will be coming to the workshop every week, so we make sure we get out and about to see people at home too. They shouldn’t be excluded because they don’t like woodwork or, for instance, suffer from anxiety or depression that keeps them at home.
Jobs and Benefits
That grey slice of the pie, our third largest mileage total, is all about making sure trainees and residents attend essential services helping them to get back into work or access benefits. It doesn’t take much more than a missed appointment for a trainee to find the small income they depend on has been “sanctioned”, entailing several weeks of financial hardship at best. Ade told us:
“If it wasn’t for Handcrafted, I would have literally vapourized! As a job seeker, I have to go to regular appointments for a training and employment program. It used to be just a couple of miles away and easy enough to get to. Then they closed that centre down and told me to go to Consett – miles away. Missing these appointments is just not an option for me, but thankfully I’ve been able to get lifts and maintain my molecular structure.”
Being transportationally challenged puts barriers in the way of access to food banks and medical care, and while a probation appointment might be just five minutes long, getting there could take hours that would be better spent. These are all important to someone who is trying to take care of themselves and get some traction in life. The remainder of our travel time is spent making sure these necessary journeys happen.
As a small charity with just a few staff, it would not be possible to do all this without a team of volunteers who are generous with their time and vehicles and committed to making sure that nobody gets left behind.