A charitable organisation in south-east Northumberland has been awarded more than £22,000 to help establish a new vocational education and training programme.
Blyth Star Enterprises, which provides living support, work experience and day services for people living with learning disabilities and mental health issues, has acquired funding through a number of charitable trusts to help get its woodfuel and woodwork training programme off the ground.
These include The Ridley Family Charity, the Gwyneth Forrester Trust, the Guyll Leng Charitable Trust and the Didymus Charity.
Operating a number of small business ventures across multiple sectors within Northumberland, Blyth Star Enterprises is dedicated to providing transferable skills and valuable work experience to people living with severe and enduring mental ill health and learning disabilities.
One such business is The Woodfuel Centre in West Sleekburn. It is run by a team of trained professionals, with support from Blyth Star’s service users.
After successfully piloting an accredited training programme within another of its projects, it has replicated the scheme with The Woodfuel Centre to give service users the chance to acquire higher level skills and qualifications.
Neil Hedley, manager at The Woodfuel Centre, said: “Covering topics such as machinery operation, health and safety, fork-lift truck driving, practical DIY and warehouse processes, the programme deals with all aspects of work in a factory environment.”
He added: “The service users’ progress is assessed and monitored through a personal care profile, which tracks their development through each module, and also considers how the individual’s social skills, communication skills and confidence improve throughout the course.”
Established by a group of parents and carers in 1987, Blyth Star Enterprises was founded on the principle that everyone should have somewhere to live, somewhere to work and someone to care.
Through the provision of day services, work experience training programmes, life coaching and supported accommodation, it is actively helping more than 300 service users to live more independently within their own communities.
Gordon Moore, chief executive officer at Blyth Star Enterprises, said: “Many people living with mental health problems and learning disabilities often feel isolated from their local communities.
“At Blyth Star Enterprises, we are dedicated to providing practical and innovative day services that replicate real working environments. We strive to provide a setting where our service users can gain valuable life experience and enjoy a real sense of purpose.
“We are incredibly grateful for all of the funding and support we’ve received towards the implementation of our new woodfuel and woodwork training programme.
“By continuing to create stimulating training and activity programmes that focus on personal development, Blyth Star Enterprises can help to equip more people living with mental health problems across Northumberland with the skills they need to progress on their journey from hospitalisation to independent living.”