'It's amazing to see the difference learning new skills can make'

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22 Aug 2014
by Neil Skinner

The Workshop, in Bulwell, provides high quality training for unemployed people in a wide array of skills – from painting and decorating to DIY and bicycle maintenance. Part of our EVE Trades community Interest company, its professional facilities and staff compare favourably with many further education colleges, but its aims are in fact very different.

It really is amazing to see the difference a simple course in something like painting and decorating can have on somebody; to see the change in their attitude throughout the time they are here.

Support Worker Andrea Hall

Staff and volunteers actually have no intention of turning out the next generation of professional craftspeople (as welcome as that would be) and are focussed instead on something rather more fundamental – on helping vulnerable people to realise that they can learn new skills and embrace new opportunities if they wish to do so. They may be working towards certain goals and achievements, but success is measured very differently indeed.

Workshop Support Worker Andrea Hall explains more…

“What my job is really all about is guiding people to new opportunities and re-introducing them to the idea of working. Fundamentally it is about re-introducing them to the idea that they can learn new skills and can achieve things in the future.”

The Workshop runs Painting and Decorating courses

People are referred to The Workshop from a variety of places, including the Job Centre. All are unemployed – some for a period of several years – and are looking to explore new opportunities…something Andrea knows all about because she was once an unemployed learner at The Workshop.

She recalls: “I had been out of the country for around five years and when I returned I found it harder to get the jobs I wanted. Things had moved on and I had lost a bit of confidence in myself.

A Bike Club learner gets down to business fixing his cycle.

“Fortunately for me I am very proactive and started looking around for new options when I was temping. I decided I wanted to learn painting and decorating skills and ended up at The Workshop. I have been here ever since, first as a volunteer then as a member of staff. I am so passionate about the work we do here because I know for myself how effective it can be and what a difference it had on my life. It made me feel a lot more confident and made me realise that if I put my mind to it I can learn new things and take up new opportunities.”

 

And there, summarised in a few sentences, is what The Workshop is all about: developing confidence and opening doors to new opportunities. It may seem trite, but this simple ethos and approach really does work.

Andrea: “You have to remember that some of the people who come to us have not worked for years and this creates big problems. Some people are very short of skills needed in the workplace: some are depressed; some are very isolated because they never leave the house, and some have lost all their confidence all together. The best bit of my job is to see the change in them as we progress through a course.

“It really is amazing to see the difference a simple course in something like painting and decorating can have on somebody; to see the change in their attitude throughout the time they are here. It is fantastic when somebody comes in and says they’ve got an interview or that they have found a job because I can see how much The Workshop has helped them.

“To recap, The Workshop is really not about training professional tradespeople. It is about making people realise that they do have the potential to do other things.”

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