Charity is searching for new home in 2018

Staff, volunteers and clients at GWK Woodshed. Picture by Ian McClelland.
Staff, volunteers and clients at GWK Woodshed. Picture by Ian McClelland.

A charity supporting people from a disadvantaged background to train for a career is looking for a new home.

Groundwork NE and Cumbria is in need of new premises for its social enterprise GWK Woodshed to avoid its closure in September.

The community project, launched in 2015 at its current site in Gateshead Central Nursery, supports people aged 14 to 64, some of whom are long-term unemployed or from disadvantaged backgrounds, to help them progress into a career or education.

It has helped more than 300 people in the region since it opened.

People attending GWK Woodshed have the opportunity to turn reclaimed wood into bespoke indoor and outdoor furniture, with the products sold.

The charity needs to find a large, public-facing space that can accommodate a workshop and a shop.

Geoff Dawson, Manager at GWK Woodshed, said: “We are delighted with everything we have achieved with GWK Woodshed so far, and we think it will be a real shame if we can no longer continue after September when we lose the site at Gateshead Nursery.”

For further information about GWK Woodshed, call 0191 460 9508 or email gwkwoodshed@groundwork.org.uk

Mr Dawson added: “This will be devastating, not only to the staff and volunteers who have dedicated the past three years to setting it up and running it, but also to the hundreds of people who come here, who have made it such a success.

“We’d like to say a huge thank you to Gateshead Council for providing the site. Without the support of the council, we would not be in the fantastic position we are to have a successful and thriving social enterprise in need of a new site to take it to the next level.

“We need to find somewhere accessible to all that could comfortably house the workshop and the public shop. However, due to being a social enterprise, we can’t afford to go to an industrial or retail park.

“We are appealing for someone who is an investor and looking for a new project, an asset transfer, or someone with a large industrial unit, a farm, or another suitable building that is standing empty, and who would like to use it for a great cause.”

Gordon Gray, a supervisor at GWK Woodshed, said: “I first came up here two years ago on a placement from the unemployment office.

“I enjoyed my 13 weeks here and I came back as a volunteer.

“A supervisor’s assistant job came up and lucky old me I got the job. I didn’t think I’d work again, but if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.”