The accidental woodworker: Lauren’s Story

At Handcrafted we do our very best to offer a really warm welcome for all who come along, no matter how people came to find us.  Over the years we’ve been continually blessed by the wide variety of routes by which people have made their way to our workshop – word of mouth, referrals from local hostels, GP’s, Community Policing and the Probation Service, churches, food banks, rehab, community centres and even curious passers-by – it’s all been such a privilege.


Lauren’s story is a little different – she wasn’t even looking for us!  She explains “I’ve been coming here for about two months now. Originally I came along to support my partner – he suffers from depression and anxiety and is trying to get past an agoraphobia problem. He wouldn’t leave the house very often and he definitely wouldn’t leave without me. We were told about Handcrafted by his Mum and we turned up, more as a courtesy to her.  To be honest neither of us were expecting it to be particularly great.  We assumed that there’d be loads of paperwork and that they’d say – ‘you can’t make anything right away, there’s lots of theory about tools to go through before you can get started.’  Thankfully this turned out not be the case at all.  We were shown around the workshop and the machines, introduced to people and then asked what we wanted to make, which was a surprise to me because I wasn’t expecting to get involved myself as the Handcrafted team didn’t even know that I was coming along.

I’d imagined that I was just going to have to sit and do something else, or come back later to pick him up. So I was actually pleasantly surprised when I was encouraged to join in. I’d been going through a pretty bad time with my job and this had a negative impact on my mental health, got me really stressed and had damaged my self-worth. And, suddenly, I was in a really nice environment, that was relaxed and where I was actually getting something done. My Grandad used to be a joiner and so it brought back happy memories– I found myself in a workshop surrounded by sawdust and it really calmed me down.”

After attending a couple of sessions both Lauren and her partner decided that they’d like to make coming along to the workshop part of their regular routine.

“Now I come in when I’ve got days off and my partner comes in pretty much every day. It’s good because it’s a relaxing environment, it’s safe and the staff are always nice. The other people who come to the group are pretty friendly; everyone’s willing to help if you’re struggling with something. I’ve just finished doing a load of pyrography pictures that have taken a lot of time to do and a lot of concentration, and today I’m now painting these big planters which is nice because, after spending ages having to focus on these detailed pictures, I can now slap the paint on the planters and it’s absolutely fine.  It’s a positive place and I really feel my self-confidence and my mood has improved.

Best of all it gives me something to do that I haven’t done for a while – a chance to be artistic again.”

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