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Published on March 10, 2017 | by Alastair Gilmour


Shed-loads of creativity

Now that spring is springing and the daffs are nodding in the fresh breeze, many a publican will be thinking about brightening their places up, renewing furniture, fixing this, repairing that, and getting round to sorting out the beer garden. Again.

Now that we’re all tuned into upcycling and reclamation, is there a more satisfying way of doing that than through the help of a social enterprise that helps to improve the lives of people in local communities by sourcing a range of waste and surplus timber to turn it into functional, saleable products?

Gateshead-based charity gwkWoodshed runs an innovative employment scheme that not only helps the disadvantaged in society but produces incredible furniture from discarded wood that looks terrific in a pub setting.

“All the furniture and objects we make is from reclaimed timber,” says gwkWoodshed site manager Nathan Hopkins. “We’re a non profit-making business working with groups who wouldn’t normally find employment, such as those with physical and mental disabilities, depression and stroke groups. We also run an ‘alternative curriculum’ for those outside mainstream education. We work with potential employers to give these people a chance – for example, a lot of people age 50-plus are hung out to dry, finding it difficult to find work. Making furniture taps into their creative side.”

And, what those people can do with discarded pallets and logs dredged from the Tyne is simply amazing. Picnic tables, oak barrel seating, benches, pews, bird boxes, planters, raised beds and dining room sets bring style and substance to the inside or outside of a pub – plus they’re equally at home at home.

Nathan Hopkins is also keen to talk to large regional companies who can offer a future for his workforce. As for the beer garden furniture, this is the time to present a fresh face to the world. What could be more rewarding?

*gwkWoodshed, Whickham Highway, Lobley Hill, Gateshead NE11 9RQ. Details: (0191 460 9508)

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Alastair Gilmour

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