Over the last year MH Southern & Co Ltd., a timber importer and sawmiller based in Jarrow, has offered support to local homelessness charity Emmaus North East by providing wood for use in their workshop on St Hilda’s Industrial Estate in South Shields.

Emmaus North East supports 13 formerly homeless people by giving them a home, meaningful work in a social enterprise and an opportunity to regain lost self-esteem to help rebuild their lives.

When James Southern, Managing Director of MH Southern, was told that Emmaus North East had opened a woodwork unit, he offered to provide them with wood. He said, “We work with a range of timber products and are happy to donate wood that can be used in Emmaus’s workshop to manufacture unique products and get people back into work”

John Harrison, Executive Lead at Emmaus North East, said, “We are very grateful for the support provided by MH Southern. The wood donations have allowed some of the formerly homeless people we support, as well as volunteers, to create a range of items and learn new woodworking skills. After having completed their initial training in the workshop, several people have expressed an interest in going on to gain their CSCS qualification which would allow them to find work in the building trade.

“When we first opened our workshop, we focused on upcycling old pieces of furniture to give them a new lease of life, but with the support of MH Southern we are now able to produce a wide range of items from the wood. Garden furniture such as picnic tables, bird houses and planters have been the most popular, but we also make bespoke commissions for local people, including a cat’s house, bin stores, a Game of Thrones ‘Iron Throne’ and large mirrors for a hair salon. Plans are in place to expand the workshop and begin making items from other types of recycled wood. We would also like to look at offering upcycling courses to members of the public for anyone interested in learning new skills.”

Items are available to buy in the Emmaus North East workshop on St Hilda’s Industrial Estate, at their shops in Low Fell and Hebburn or online. Emmaus North East also undertakes commissions from customers wishing to create bespoke items.

To find out more visit https://www.emmaus.org.uk/northeast.