Social enterprise project achieves successful first year

Social enterprise project achieves successful first year

A project that helps to support social enterprise in the North East Groundwork NE & Cumbria, has announced it had a successful first year.

The gwk woodshed at Dunston, near Gateshead, helps to transform waste and surplus timber into affordable, high quality, indoor and outdoor furniture that is sold at the on-site shop and online, in order to help the charity generate an income.

Its main purpose is to provide training for volunteers and those on work placements to help boost their employment prospects by increasing their skills, knowledge, confidence and self-esteem.

Since the gwk woodshed opened, it has diverted more than 100 tonnes of wood from landfill and achieved sales in excess of £40,000.

Its recent significant commissions have included providing 40 timber planters to Catchgate Horticultural and Planter Society (CHAPS) in Stanley, as well as a number of seats and pieces of furniture for Gateshead restaurant, Vivere.

Groundwork NE & Cumbria chief executive Kate Culverhouse said: “The gwk woodshed is working well on three levels – a means of helping people improve their confidence and skills, protecting the environment by recycling previously used wood rather than it go to landfill, and as an income generator.

“The gwk woodshed reflects Groundwork’s ethos of making the best use of resources for the good of the community and helping increase people’s ability to secure permanent employment.”

Pier Carlo, owner of the Vivere restaurant said: “The guys at gwk woodshed are amazing.

“They created a totally bespoke set of tables and seats for me using old whisky barrels, saving them from the tip or fire.”

The gwk woodshed is part of a horticultural nursery that Groundwork operates on the same site, which is next to Whickham Highway.

The gwk nursery employs three staff, provides work placements for up to ten people and training opportunities for nine volunteers.

Micky Stobbart, a 38-year-old gwk woodshed volunteer, who lives in Blaydon, said: “I am learning so many new skills including the use of power tools and how to design and built a range of garden furniture.

“My hope is that once I have finished my placement at the gwk woodshed I will have the knowledge and skills necessary to find work with a joiner.”

The gwk nursery provides horticultural training, offers courses and activities in health and wellbeing and specialises in growing trees using locally collected seed, which are then sold across the UK for use in woodland schemes, hedging, landscaping, schools, plantations, highways and many other projects.

The gwk nursery, also based at the former Gateshead Central Nursery site is open to the public, who can buy from an excellent range of plants and trees as well as products from the gwk woodshed.