Mobile workshop teaches positive skills to young people

This story was published 28 March 2019

A pop-up shed is helping young people give something back to the community by teaching woodwork skills so they can make items for good causes.

Charlie Macleod and Ed Horwood try out the new equipment in Scarborough

North Yorkshire’s Youth Justice Service has launched the initiative to help rehabilitate young people who have been given community sentences by teaching them vocational skills from a mobile workspace.

Young people aged between ten and 17 who have committed an offence are often handed community sentences by the courts, which require them to carry out unpaid work for the benefit of their victims, or people locally.

While this work can take various forms, the lack of a workshop space meant North Yorkshire County Council’s Youth Justice Team was unable to offer basic practical work tasks for young people. Now, thanks to local donations, the service’s east team – covering Scarborough, Ryedale and Selby areas of the county – has obtained enough equipment to create its own pop-up shed.

The equipment includes a foldable workbench, a battery drill, saws, hand tools and dustsheets, which can be packed into the boot of a car and taken to the young people. It can be set up anywhere from a back garden to a church hall.

B&Q in Scarborough made donations of equipment and material supplies, while three Rotary clubs of Scarborough and Whitby donated money to get the project off the ground.

Reparation and Volunteer Development Officer Ed Horwood, from the Youth Justice Service, said they devised the project after volunteers with Littlebeck and Whitby Men’s Shed initiatives and North Yorkshire Men’s Shed Ambassador Graham Storer helped one young person create bird boxes for Dalby Forest and a local charity shop, which had been requested by the victims of his offence.                                                                                                                             

Ed added: “I was greatly impressed and inspired by the Men’s Sheds concept.  It struck me that having our own, easily transportable set of resources would allow a pop-up workshop to be created wherever and whenever we wanted it – be it in a room within a community building, a church hall, at young people’s own homes, and outside spaces.” 

Using pallets and reclaimed wood, young people will learn new skills and gain confidence through creating simple woodworking projects, including bird boxes, bat boxes and planters, which can be passed to charities to sell, or given to organisations that benefit wildlife. 

The Rotary Club of Whitby and District, The Rotary Club of Scarborough Cavaliers, and The Rotary Club of Scarborough between them provided £225 for the project.  This figure was matched in kind through donations of tools and equipment by B&Q’s Scarborough branch manager Charlie Macleod. 

Charlie said: “The success that has come from the project so far suggests it’s a very worthwhile initiative. If we can turn people around then they can contribute to the community.

“It also involves skills that can instil pride. If we can instil pride back into these young people, that would definitely help prevent them reoffending.”

Tony Stevens, the President of the Rotary Club of Scarborough Cavaliers, said: “We are delighted that three local Rotary Clubs came together to help fund the buying of necessary tools for the pop-up workshop  in order to engage youngsters in the Youth Justice system. 

"We feel this is a very worthwhile cause and wish this project every success in the future.”

North Yorkshire County Councillor Janet Sanderson, executive member for children’s services, said: “These workshops are equipping young people with vocational skills which will stay with them for life and which will also bring benefit to local communities.”