No space? No tools? No problem!

I love looking at sites like Pinterest and the YouTube channels spearheading the “makers revolution”: seeing the incredible creativity of some humans – especially when they are transforming things that might otherwise be destined for landfill. But I hate feeling like a bystander, having neither the space or the tools, and possibly lacking the confidence to become a maker myself. Continue reading “No space? No tools? No problem!”

The Student Becomes The Teacher

Meet Leanne, our new personal trainer. She’s working with Michelle at Handcrafted Women on our new exercise programme: working to support other women towards health, addiction recovery and wholeness through exercise. Leanne is, without sounding like a trite Instagram post, a complete inspiration. In the three months since she’s left prison, she’s built a successful business offering personal training, meal plans and nutritional advice as well as being asked to speak at events, and to write on health and fitness for a magazine and newspaper.


Continue reading “The Student Becomes The Teacher”

Fresh Beginnings

Food poverty is a real challenge for many families in the North East. According to the North East Child Poverty Commission, child poverty affects 1 in 4 children in the region; the national average is 1 in 5. The North East also has the highest levels of obesity in the country (30% of adults), and the poverty gap has doubled in the last ten years.  

On the 5th August, we launched our training kitchen in Chester-le-Streetwhere people can learn cooking skills, including how to cook on a budget. We believe that this could really make a difference to how people can be empowered to combat food poverty in their own households.  
Continue reading “Fresh Beginnings”

National Recognition

We are thrilled by the national-level coverage of one of our renovations on the “inews” website last week. Mim’s article explains more of what we do as an organisation and how we see prison leavers begin to stand on their own feet and gradually turn their lives around.

We are passionate to see those who are homeless or vulnerably housed for a multitude of reasons (including leaving prison) find stability and begin the journey to independent living. Twenty one people are currently accomodated in our houses, determined to change their lives for the better.

Read the story in inews here.

Our Saw-Some Soapbox

Most job descriptions don’t include “drive a wooden car made in three weeks down a massive ramp, over four jumps in front of 1200 people”.  However in my second month working with Handcrafted, this is one of the unexpected things I have done.

Along with the other teams, we had two attempts to get down to the bottom of the 450 metre track at Herrington Country Park as quickly as possible. This wasn’t without a shortage of drama, mechanical changes and spectacular crashes. Continue reading “Our Saw-Some Soapbox”

Downhill all the Way at the North East Soap Box Challenge

Prince, Michael Jackson and David Bowie needed a spanner to fix their coffin …

What’s the punchline?

Wait … no. This actually happened?

 

It’s Saturday, August the 18th at Herrington Country Park, and pit crews are making last-minute adjustments to their vehicles before they run the challenging downhill skidaddle of the North East’s inaugural Soap Box Challenge. Continue reading “Downhill all the Way at the North East Soap Box Challenge”

The Power of Suggestion

There isn’t a roadmap for what we are doing at Handcrafted. We have a clear sense of our mission to restore and empower people through training in the context of a creative and inclusive community. We know that there’s always room for improvement and innovation. In formal meetings and casual conversations, we are preoccpied with how we can adapt to do it better. Everyone who comes along to be part of the journey has a stake in that.

Empowering people means not ‘doing stuff to and for them’ but enabling them to take initiative and determine how they will thrive and become the’ best version of themselves’. Over the last few weeks we asked our trainees to give Handcrafted some feedback and suggestions for improvement. After all, if it’s not working for the people it’s here for, what is the point in doing it? Continue reading “The Power of Suggestion”

Enter … Aly – our new Project Development Officer

Narrator’s Voice: We’ve been running a workshop in Gateshead since January 2017, practically working out our conviction that the Handcrafted way of doing things can have a powerful effect in other localities. Initially open for just 8 hours a week, and running bicycle repair courses alongside woodworking in a small workshop, we were helped by a lot of interest from other organisations and began to settle into a niche that offered something new and made a big difference to our first brave group of pioneering trainees. You can read about the early days here.

Having moved to a new space in April this year, the project has picked up momentum and the time has come for it to have its own Project Development Officer, someone with the unique mix of passion, creativity, compassion and practical smarts to take things to the next level.

(Aly enters stage left wearing combat trousers and a headband and brandishing a drill, like some sort of pallet-repurposing freedom fighter) Continue reading “Enter … Aly – our new Project Development Officer”