Can you tell us a bit about Poetry in Wood and the history behind the charity?
Poetry in Wood trains and employs people with learning disabilities in a creative wood workshop in Shoreditch. We promote independence and empowerment through training and employment. Our aim is to help our members to contribute and participate in the wider community.
We offer our students a unique training course in Art, Design and Woodwork. The course provides NVQ training in a variety of creative skills and is accredited through the Open College Network.
The training aspect of Poetry in Wood has been running for the past 25 years. Recent projects have seen students design and make inlayed boxes, working ukuleles, puppets, animations and film scenery.
Students who complete the training course can gain employment in Poetry in Wood's own social enterprise. We make everything from small gifts to large scale sculptural murals. Examples of our products and commissions can be seen on our website www.poetryinwood.org.uk
The team like visitors so if you would like to see what we do and take a look at the products we have in stock please arrange a visit.
We also run workshops for corporate volunteers, the groups get a taster of working with the enterprise team to work on a collaborative project.
Can you tell us the most moving experience that you've had through Poetry in Wood?
Poetry in Wood took part in the Lord Mayors Show in 2014, we decorated a large float with a giant tree covered with animals, birds and flowers. The crowds cheering and waving as the whole Poetry in Wood team paraded through central London was an amazing experience for everyone.
Can you talk us through how your workshops are run?
We like the unique style that comes from our workers illustrations so we start every commission with different members doing drawings. We show the drawings to the people commissioning the piece of work and they will choose the one they like best. Usually the next job is tracing the images we have drawn on to the wood using carbon paper.
When the image is on the wood one of the team will cut out the image on a fret saw, sand and then use pyrography to burn the image on to the piece. We share jobs so sometimes lots of different people will work to create one piece of work.
To finish the product off we usually paint and then varnish several times. Our team of workers have fantastic skills and do all the work themselves.
What is your favourite Poetry in Wood product?
I like our round wooden boxes and in particular Robin’s fox box.
What do you think makes a good company?
Passion, I think you need to love what you do and believe that it will succeed.
Can you describe your workplace?
We are a fully working wood workshop but it has Poetry in Wood’s sense of quirky fun in every nook and cranny. It’s very colourful, we love to have our work on display and as we have been going a long time there is quite a lot of it.
Everyone is very friendly and happy to be here. We have to be quite serious on some matters like safety but there is an overriding atmosphere of fun to Poetry in Wood.
What is your life motto?
Be Kind. Poetry in Wood is the most caring place I have ever worked, it is truly a person centred environment which values each person and their abilities.
What's next for Poetry in Wood?
We want to get the word out about our pet products range. Our social enterprise can use a photo of your pet to create a unique wooden magnet, lead hook, notice board, bookends, door stop, message holder, Christmas decoration or any other wooden gift you can think of.
We are preparing to start our advertising campaign to tell people how easy it is to get a unique gift with a quirky illustration of their pet handmade by our team. We encourage people to get in touch with a clear photo of your pet, we send you a drawing and then you decide what product you would like made; we are looking forward to lots of new commissions.
Check out more of Poetry in Wood here - poetryinwood.org.uk