Charity reaches out to hardest hit during lockdown

A CHARITY at the heart of its community is providing support for those most in need during lockdown.

Home To Work, which runs workshop courses to build people’s confidence and help them return to work, is supporting people across West Cumbria by delivering weekly craft activities to their homes.

Karen Jones, managing director of Home To Work

The Skills@Home project was launched last year during the first Covid-19 lockdown when staff began putting together craft packs for clients who could no longer attend the charity’s workshops and encouraged them to share their work on social media.

The project was such a success that it secured funding to continue after lockdown.

Karen Jones, managing director of Home To Work, which is based in Cleator Moor, Cumbria, said: “It’s such a simple way to reach out to people and yet so effective. One woman, who was suffering from depression, worked on her craft projects in the evenings and posted pictures of her creations before going to bed. She said waking up in the morning to positive comments about her work helped her through lockdown.”

The Skills@Home craft packs include home decorations, découpage sets, mindfulness journals, and family activities.

Karen Jones, managing director of Home To Work

Karen said the project, which is funded by Cumbria Community Foundation, supported people throughout the community who would otherwise not approach them for help.

“After launching the Skills@Home project, we realised that we were reaching people who were not yet ready to attend our workshops but could benefit from our support,” she said.

“There is a cohort of people who are not searching for work because they are not yet ready for work - and the Covid-19 pandemic has only made their situation worse. Our role is to nurture them so they can transition into employment.”

Home To Work runs workshop courses from the charity’s base in Ennerdale Road, Cleator Moor, as part of its Skills 4 You project, which aims to build people’s confidence, help them find ways to cope with anxiety and depression, and give them essential skills to better equip them for the workplace.

With courses currently on hold due to lockdown, the charity is distributing Skills@Home craft activities to people who would otherwise be attending its workshops, as well as those who are part of the scheme.

The Skills@Home team has also launched a pilot project to provide people struggling with their mental health during lockdown with a CD of coping strategies such as mindfulness and relaxation. The CDs have been created by Kay Wayman, who works with the charity as a therapeutic life coach.

Karen said: “It’s another way to support the people in the community who need help the most.”

When not under the toughest Covid-19 restrictions, Skills 4 You operates two workshops, one focused on woodwork and another on crafts. Any items made in the workshops, from upcycled furniture to planters, and picnic tables to bird boxes, are either kept by the client or sold to raise funds for the charity.

The Skills 4 You project is funded by Works 4 You, a social enterprise run by Home To Work, which provides garden maintenance services including grass cutting to local parish and town councils as well as private individuals.

It is also funded by the Cleator Moor Community Shop, which opened in 2019 in High Street.

The charity receives grant funding from Copeland Community Fund, Cumbria Community Foundation and Sellafield Ltd.

Karen said the team was passionate about supporting the local community and helping alleviate deprivation by tackling unemployment and raising aspirations.

“We want to support the town by creating opportunities and striving to be the very best we can be,” she said.