Workcrafts - Connect, Be Active, Keep Learning, Give

Residents in the Bedale area of Northallerton, North Yorkshire, wanted to get together and support one another, particularly around mental health difficulties. The project was user-led from inception in 1996, and was built on the premise that people do better when they have meaningful activities to participate in.

The project is open to everyone, through self-referral or by the local mental health services, with participants undertaking a diverse set of activities including woodwork, painting and sewing.

Local volunteers have had an important role in running the project, and with the continuation of local community restoration work such as working on the North Yorkshire moors to maintain footpaths.

There is a small number of paid staff that help run the project, with funding from Mind and the National Lottery. While sourcing funds to employ the staff is difficult, the project also finds it hard relying on the free time of volunteers alone. The project had hoped that sales of products made by participants would generate revenue, but this has been disappointing, partly due to the difficulty of finding the right outlet for the products created.

Impact on the wider local community has mainly been seen in larger volunteering activities in the local area, such as a restoration project on a railway. Individuals have felt part of the community. Additionally, stigma attached to the people with mental health problems has reduced in the area. Anecdotally, other local organisations and individuals had initially been suspicious of volunteers offering to work for free, but have seen the benefits first-hand of such local work.

Workcrafts: Community-based volunteering project

15 September 2011

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