- Advertisement -
Saturday, 24 October 2020

CHARITY TODAY AWARDS

CNI Network: Monthly Community Hero

- Advertisement -
GEORGE worked for Shell, the oil company, for 41 years and a health issue in 2016 led to George rethinking life and so took early retirement at the end of 2017. George had become involved in Street Angels in Woking in February 2011 and his early retirement meant he was open to God leading him to look for something different.

George tells his story:

‘The church I attended was looking at setting up a social enterprise to help the homeless, underprivileged or marginalised members of the community to better integrate into society and particularly, where possible, into the mainstream workforce.

‘Buying some wood on the day after I retired I came across a website for the National Community Wood Recycling Project who ran social enterprises across the UK collecting wood from builders yards and inviting people on the margins of society to work in the workshops to gain life and work experience and mentoring.

‘I took this idea to one of the church leaders and he set up a steering group, now the board of trustees, and we got up and running with the Useful Wood Company. We started the workshop in September 2019 whilst maturing the rest of the business model and we finally opened officially in February 2020.’

George

Wood is collected from building sites, sorted and then either sold back to the public or used in the workshops to make furniture and other items. Unusable wood is sent to be turned into fertiliser so that none of the collected timber ends up in landfill.

However just as the project got going the coronavirus sadly meant the Useful Wood Company had to be put on hold.

Asked about any outstanding stories in the first few months George shared:

‘We are early into the project and have had mixed success.

‘One gentleman had been long term unemployed and in move on accommodation following on from time in the night shelter. His confidence was low when he started but after four months of working with the Useful Wood Company, he left us to set up his own business selling Betterware and other catalogue based products door to door.

‘It was amazing to see his confidence grow as he worked with the team over the four months.

‘Another gentleman who was a chronic alcoholic who was showing such promise and was going from strength to strength. Just before Christmas he had a downturn and just as he was coming through that, the coronavirus hit.

‘We have people with long term illness and those from halfway housing. We are able to see people progress and it is amazing how turning bits and pieces of wood into a final product gives people a source of pride and achievement.

George is hoping that the Useful Wood Company can go from strength to strength. He would love to see a fleet of vans and the opportunity to employ some of the volunteers to drive and deliver.

‘At one stage, we were almost about to give up because property is so expensive that we couldn’t find a suitable place at an affordable price. Eventually, we were given the old Job Centre rent and rate free as it was empty awaiting demolition. The building is very close to the centre of Woking and is well known to our clients.

‘Our hope is to build the business up so that when the Job Centre site is ready for redevelopment we can then afford commercial rates.’

George is also involved as a volunteer and trustee of Woking Street Angels.

‘Street Angels is great fun! The change in the town is noticeable, Woking had a reputation for fights and was not a nice place to be at 2am, whereas these days we don’t see fights and the police report crime rates have gone down substantially.

‘Everyone who is out now recognises us and comes for chats, help and flip-flops. We have very much built up relationships with the night-club community.

‘Street Angels was my introduction to the homeless community in Woking and this led me on to volunteer for a regular meal which got me connected with this community and helped me to understand the needs and despair. This has really helped as we set up the Useful Wood Company.’

George encourages people to always talk to those who you are aiming to help so that real needs and not perceived needs are met.

‘There is a very real need for more people to volunteer in community and charity organisations.’

In these times where people are furloughed and have less pressures on time George encouraged those who are re-evaluating life during this coronavirus lockdown to look at investing into the voluntary sector as this plays such a vital role in our society.

‘The work I am involved in is really rewarding and to see lives changed and having fun whilst seeing this is such a privilege.’

For more information on Useful Wood Company visit usefulwood.org or for Woking Street Angels visit wokingstreetangels.org.uk

Sign up to receive full FREE access to charity news and special sector offers.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Stay Connected

1,373FansLike
1,834FollowersFollow
30,221FollowersFollow
1,200SubscribersSubscribe

Must Read

The Duke of Cambridge lays foundation stone for state-of-the-art cancer research and treatment facility

THE Duke of Cambridge today attended a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of building works for The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust’s Oak...

Heart Heroes celebrated by star-studded attendees at virtual charity awards event

THE British Heart Foundation (BHF) tonight celebrated inspirational ‘Heart Heroes’ who have shown courage, resilience, compassion and bravery in the face of debilitating heart...
- Advertisement -

Employment News

Samaritans announces the appointment of new CEO, Julie Bentley

THE leading suicide prevention charity in the UK and ROI has announced that Julie Bentley has been appointed as its new CEO. Julie joins Samaritans...

Kate Cooper-Owen joins Comic Relief’s top team as Creative Director

COMIC Relief has announced another exciting new appointment to their top team with Kate Cooper-Owen set to join as Creative Director. Kate will play a...

Special Olympics GB welcomes two new faces to the team

SPECIAL Olympics GB is delighted to announce the appointment of Pete Rhodes and Ben Miller to the organisation with immediate effect. Pete Rhodes takes on...

Related News

POhWER launches hat-themed fundraising appeal

UK advocacy charity, POhWER, has launched its Hats of POhWER fundraising appeal with the goal of raising £5,000 to expand its Community Advocacy offering. At...

Berkshire blind veteran to have artwork featured in military charity’s annual art exhibition

A Berkshire blind veteran is going have his artwork piece 'Safe Area - Lighthouse Entrance' featured in Blind Veterans UK's annual exhibition fundraiser this...

Adopt-A-Child: Expanding our work in Albania

OVER recent months we have had to significantly change the way we have been doing things in Albania.  Our usual feed programmes, serving a hot...

North Yorkshire disability charity to extend ‘smart learning’ thanks to National Lottery grant

DISABLED adults from across the Harrogate district will be able to join a charity's 'smart learning' programme, thanks to the National Lottery. Disability Action Yorkshire,...

New charity resilience fund to distribute £20m

THE Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) has launched a new £20 million fund to help charitable organisations in England that support those hardest hit by...
- Advertisement -
X