Handcrafted began when several people from local churches in Durham befriended people living on the streets. They were inspired to do more for those that they met. Thus, Handcrafted was born out of a desire to see isolated people connected and those who had lost confidence reconnect with a future of real and tangible possibility. They believe every human is of equal worth and worthy of forgiveness, love, restoration and community. Out of this Handcrafted aim to empower those who have been disadvantaged or faced social exclusion due to crime; alcohol or substance abuse; poor mental or physical health; unemployment; abuse; or being in the care system. They work with individuals to turn their lives around, and be part of a community that gives back.
The key features of Handcrafted are providing tailored training opportunities and creative activities to enable every individual to achieve their goals, helping disadvantaged people find their ideal job or start their own enterprises. They also provide housing across the Region and holistic support that engages with individuals' whole lives, helping them to build healthy coping strategies. Handcrafted welcomes everyone into their community, regardless of background. From small beginnings with one small workshop, they have now got three main creative hubs in Durham, Chester-le-Street and Gateshead where individuals can come and see their lives transformed.
Through their creative hubs and houses Handcrafted have seen many lives impacted for the better. Their service users and residents have grown in confidence as they have found a place of real community and security. There are too many stories to tell that demonstrate the impact Handcrafted have had. Ben's story is so typical of the testimonies that come out from those that engage in their services, he said: "Handcrafted has really changed my life in the here and now. It gets me out of the house, I'm meeting friendly people,..., I'm learning new skills - not just practical - but also helping me deal with my social anxiety." This is just one of many people to have found transformation in one of Handcrafted's creative hubs!
Handcrafted want to continue to expand their housing stock to provide more homes for those who need them most. They will find homes with specific spaces for care leavers and direct access. They will continue to extend the portfolio of training that they offer, going beyond woodworking and crafts into wellbeing and cookery, with their most recent hub to be opened a training kitchen in Chester-le-Street. They have ambitions to repeat their success in other places across the region and to continue to bless as many lives as possible.