Before joining the team at Handcrafted, John held a number of influential posts using enterprise to bring about change in communities and hope to individuals. Along with his broad experience, he brings a passion to see people grow in confidence, ability and self-esteem.
“Change is possible, and it can be radical; but time needs to be invested in connecting with people as individuals, working together to plan next steps, and keeping one another accountable along the way.”
John lives in Gateshead with his wife, Susan, and Elvis the wonder-dog. He enjoys playing bass guitar in his spare time.
Seymour (Senior Support Worker)
Seymour brings his training and experience as a mental health nurse to his work with our trainees and tenants. Whether helping them to achieve long-term goals or deal with the daily hiccups of life, he has an inexhaustible expectation that people can change and turn their lives around.
“Handcrafted offers some of the best keys for unlocking change: being physically active, using your hands to make things, belonging to a community, having a routine, being loved by people who won’t give up on you.”
Lorraine (Administrator and Support Worker)
From fundraising through daily administration to finance, staying on top of social media, and dealing with a stream of enquiries, Lorraine wears many hats. Her weighty experience in a range of roles and organisations such as the Salvation Army, a national family support charity and the education sector fit her to make an essential contribution to the team.
“I don’t believe in the ‘VIP’ culture, I believe that everyone is a VIP; everyone should have the opportunity to move on into being all that they can be in life.”
Rob (Training Co-ordinator)
Rob makes the training happen at our woodworking project on a practical daily basis. He grew up moving house a lot and quickly learned to fix things. Working with wood and fixing places up has become a lifelong passion, complimented by his qualifications in design and experience as an instructor. Rob is pioneering our partnership with Academy 313 to develop accredited courses and qualifications for our trainees.
“I really enjoy seeing the moment when trainees suddenly see what they are capable of, often coming from a place of scepticism about their own abilities. It’s like the light comes on, and then they have a flood of creative ideas for what they want to do and there’s no stopping them.”
Graham (Workshop Support Worker)
Graham’s uncanny resemblance to the comedian, Frankie Boyle, could lead you to miss some other remarkable facts about him. Before coming to Handcrafted he demonstrated his ability to turn his hand craftiness to anything with prior careers as a groundsman, a chocolatier, and a support worker for people with learning difficulties. Graham is based in our Durham workshop, offering support alongside practical skills: planing, training and sustaining, if you will.
“It’s amazing to see what people get out of coming here whatever their background, whether they have woodwork skills or have never tried, just being able to create something from nothing. The community and friendship is often all it takes to bring a change of direction. Don’t let fear stand in the way.”
Jonny (Gateshead Project Development Officer)
Jonny joined us full time in January 2019, coming from a background in all aspects of supporting people with learning difficulties, disabilities and mental-health challenges. Woodworking is just one of his passions, which include drumming and cooking, and being a dad.
“For me the most rewarding part is watching as the people who come through our doors empower and enable themselves simply because they have the right surroundings and the right support.”
Jonny works alongside trainees in our Gateshead workshop where often the best conversations and support can take place side-by-side, while doing something together.
Peter (Woodwork Instructor)
There seems to be nothing he can’t do with wood. Peter is the resident expert in woodworking at our Gateshead workshop, passing on his skills to trainees from an inexhaustible stock of tips and tricks and practical experience.
“My motto is ‘You live and learn’ so Handcrafted is perfect for me – it’s full of life and there’s loads of opportunities to learn.”
Paul (Chester-le-Street Project Development Officer)
Paul joined the team in May 2019 as the Project Development Officer for our new Chester-le-Street hub. Paul has extensive experience working with vulnerable adults, including being a Salvation Army Officer, a Prison Custody Officer, and over 20 years experience working with violent teenagers. Paul’s wisdom helps him to connect amazingly with others in our new location.
“Everyone is important and has something to offer. We all are good at something and have value. It’s about accepting people for who they are and building positive relationships in order to develop and see people reach their full potential in life when people invest and believe in them. It’s simply giving people a chance by being interested in them and caring.”
Mim (Women’s Support Worker)
Mim is our women’ support worker, based in Chester Le Street. She’s also works in a women’s prison and helps to run a food waste organisation called REfUSE which we’re partnering with to run the women’s project. She is from London but a Northern soul, loves to write and create.
“I’ve learned more and more that I rarely have the answers to people’s problems. Those people have the solutions within them: resilience, skills, experience and kindness. What we can do is to point out, empower and encourage those things. Then we can create together a strong and sustainable path to fulfilled and healthy living.”
Catherine (Support Worker)
Before joining us at Handcrafted, Catherine was a familiar face (and an empathic listener) for many of us as the Coordinator for Durham City and Chester-le-Street foodbanks. She has also coordinated the refugee support project for Durham Christian Partnership. She’s therefore familiar with many of the challenges faced by our residents and trainees on low incomes. As a member of our support team, Catherine is passionate about connecting with people and doing the long walk with them. Her wide experience and compassionate outlook are a great fit for our way of working.
“I love community and that’s what has always stood out most to me at Handcrafted – the way everyone supports and looks after each other. It’s amazing to watch how quickly people grow in confidence in the workshop and discover how much they are capable of.”
Henry (Outreach Worker)
Henry is a graduate from Durham University who went on to a career in support work with a local housing organisation while regularly volunteering in our workshop in his spare time.
“I love spending time with the lads here and seeing what they’re passionate about. Whatever people have said about these guys in the past, they are a joy to hang out with. It’s so great to see people taking steps forward wherever they’ve come from, which happens all the time in this project.”
Henry is famous for his baggy trousers but for health and safety reasons he can’t wear them in the workshop.
Matt (Housing Officer)
Matt is a local social entrepreneur who works with trainees four days a week on renovations and maintenance, focussing on keeping our properties in good shape and bringing new properties up to a high standard. He also runs the Landscape Gardening project. He has a van, a ready smile and a passion to make a difference to his community through enterprise and training.
“I believe that no matter what your background or past mistakes or challenges, at the start of a new day we are all equal and deserve a chance and opportunity.”