Groundwork NE & Cumbria is launching an appeal to find new premises for its social enterprise GWK Woodshed, to avoid its closure in September.

The community project, which launched in 2015 at its current site in Gateshead Central Nursery, supports people aged 14 to 64 years old, some of whom are long term unemployed or from disadvantaged backgrounds, to help them progress into a career or education. It has helped more than 300 people in the region since it opened. The project has proved so successful that the charity is seeking to find more permanent premises in order to accommodate the number of people wishing to participate and increase the level of production.

People attending GWK Woodshed have the opportunity to turn reclaimed wood into bespoke indoor and outdoor furniture. The products are then sold to individual customers, schools, and businesses including pubs and restaurants.

GWK Woodshed’s lease at Gateshead Central Nursery comes to an end in September, and if the charity can’t find a suitable premises to move to before then, the project will have to close down.

The charity needs to find a large, public-facing space that can accommodate both a workshop and a shop, in order to carry on creating and selling the furniture, and to continue providing training and support for the people who use GWK Woodshed on a long term basis.

Geoff Dawson, Manager at GWK Woodshed, said: “We are delighted with everything we have achieved with GWK Woodshed so far, and we think it will be a real shame if we can no longer continue after September, when we lose the site at Gateshead Central Nursery. This will be devastating, not only to the staff and volunteers who have dedicated the past three years to setting it up and running it, but also to the hundreds of people who come here, who have made it such a success.

“We’d like to say a huge thank you to Gateshead Council for providing the site. Without the support of the council, we would not be in the fantastic position we are, to have a successful and thriving social enterprise in need of a new site to take it to the next level.”

Geoff Dawson continued: “We need to find somewhere accessible to all that could comfortably house the workshop and the public shop, however due to being a social enterprise, we can’t afford to go to an industrial or retail park.

“We are appealing for someone who is an investor and looking for a new project, an asset transfer, or someone with a large industrial unit, a farm, or another suitable building that is standing empty, and they’d like to use it for a great cause.”

Gordon Gray, a supervisor at GWK Woodshed, said: “I first came up here two years ago on a placement from the unemployment office. I enjoyed my 13 weeks here and I came back as a volunteer. A supervisor’s assistant job came up and lucky old me I got the job. I didn’t think I’d work again, but if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.”

For further information about GWK Woodshed, call 0191 460 9508 or email gwkwoodshed@groundwork.org.uk.