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School Upcycle Programme

School Upcycle Programme 

The Wood Pile will support enterprising activity by providing a budget for a group of young people to purchase a piece of furniture.  They will then restore the furniture with assistance, and market the piece for sale to the general public, all of the activity that is required to then sell the furniture is the responsibility of the group including any administration, marketing, PR etc

Aims and Objectives:  The theme of the programme is upcycling furniture on a budget, and gaining skills on painting shabby chic style, marketing, administration activity, and the sale of the finished product, this will all assist the student in employability and future aspirations.

By the end of the course the student should have an insight into the world of work, an understanding of upcycling, PR and the use of Social Media to market the product.

The students will take time to design what they want their finished furniture to look like, what are the best colours to paint it in, with assistance the best methods of work, then they will come up with a marketing strategy once the pieces are finished, they’d need to decide how best to sell the items. 

The students will learn such things as Painting, restoration, Shabby Chic, time management, team work and much more over their time here. 

A selection of photos from week 2 with work commencing. 



Photos from week 4


Photos from week 5


On the students final week they moved on to the marketing side of the project in an attempt to sell their piece of furniture, after making a plan at school once they were on site they got in their teams and made their own advert, decided where they wanted to sell their piece and how best to sell it, below are their two adverts. 

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St Joseph’s RCVA Primary School

St Joseph's RCVA Primary School


St. Joseph’s RCVA Primary School


Over the past 6 weeks at The Wood Pile on Tuesday afternoons we have had several little guests on site, the children from St Joseph’s RCVA Primary School in Durham.

We were contacted late in 2015 through our website by a teacher at the school named Dylys, Dylys was interested in a visit with the children to discuss the theme of recycling, upcycling and sustainability which would be beneficial to the children’s Geography and Technology curriculum.

After trading correspondence, we learned that the school did not have the facilities to teach woodwork, to that we then arranged for the children to come once a week for a 6 block period, in which they would be able to undertake their technology curriculum, at such a time they could learn and use skills such as cutting, joining, shaping and finishing.

We thought this would be a great opportunity for us, to help out in the community and have our volunteers and staff work to help the children, they’d be able to help with projects and give advice, the school were more than happy with this arrangement.

The sessions began on the 19th April and they had their final week on the 24th May, the children would walk with their teachers to our premises in Dragonville where they would spend around an hour with us.

Throughout the sessions the children went from deciding whether they wanted to make a fairy house or a bird box, then they would be talked through the process before being split up into little groups at their own work stations with each group having someone guide them through what they were doing, from drilling holes, hammering nails, measuring and sawing.

Each of the 14 students would go away with their own bird box/fairy house, they were helped to understand what they were doing why they were doing it, asking questions.

Once the projects began to take shape, the children seemed extremely pleased with themselves, this continued when it came to designing how they wanted to decorate their projects.

Some opted to draw on designs and then paint, whereas some just splashed on the paint, the final week once all projects had been painted accessorised and glittered, they were treated to some balloon animal making by our volunteer John, which seemed to be a big hit.

We’d heard from some parents that the children loved coming here, getting involved in the process of making something, we are extremely pleased to be able to provide a space and knowledge for this to take place, and we look forward to the next class of children starting on 7th June.

We have also begun working with the Foundation of Light, they are a sports charity affiliated to Sunderland AFC working with veterans to help them to regain confidence and assist them in getting back in to work. They have commenced a 4 week course to learn basic joinery skills, once again we are thrilled to be give this opportunity to help the wider community.   

Karen Stubbings (The Wood Pile Director) said, “we are thrilled to work with St Joseph’s School and the Foundation of Light, so far the results have been fantastic with some really creative work being carried out”

We will put some pictures from the weeks to show the children working on their projects.

Some comments from the children in Group 1

Ava “Thank you for everything, it was fun”

Isla “I loved it”

Kacey “I enjoyed it”

Esther “Thank you for helping me learn something new”

Amelia “I really enjoyed this as I got to learn a lot”

Some comments from the children in group 2

Megan “I like the way it is. thank you for helping us.”

Josane (How can we make it better) “It was already brilliant, Thank you very much I had a lovely time.”

Darcy (How can we make it better) “I like it the way it is, thank you very much.” 

Phoebe (How can we make it better) “I like the way it is, thank you very much.” 

Sophie (How can we make it better) “I like it all, thanks very much.” 

Tamisin (How can we make it better) “It was already as good as it could be, thank you I had a great time.” 

Mya “Thanks so much, it was the best!!!”


Photos below 





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The Wood Pile in the news

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Our TV Debut

For our TV Debut we were recently contacted by a company called Creative North who are a company dedicated to highlighting creative areas of interest within the North East Region.

They wanted to know about who we were and what we did, they were interested in coming in to film for their TV show, Our Creative North, we’d had a look at work they had done previously and were excited by the prospect of the publicity and awareness that it could mean for us, so naturally we wanted them to come in.

They came in and spent most of a morning filming and talking to people, conducting interviews then they went away and produced the final product and to follow is the show that aired on 20/05/2015 on Made in Tyne and Wear Sky channel 117 Freeview channel 8, we’d like to thank Creative North and wish them all the luck in future projects, links to their website will be at the bottom.

Thanks for watching


Creative North Website

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Become a Client

Become A Client, care and support information regarding our day service for clients who wish to attend The Wood Pile.

The Wood Pile Community Interest Company

Covering Durham and County Durham

Eligibility Criteria

18 years old, no upper age limit, Learning Disability, Mental Health Problems, Physical Disability, Sensory Impairment, Disadvantaged i.e. unemployed

Description/Type of Service

Clients will be supported to access training, gain new work related skills, and progress towards and into employment.  The project is so varied that it allows clients and volunteers to learn a range of new skills and in house training, opportunities will be offered in; customer service, retail, furniture restoration, joinery, logistics (collection and delivery), business administration,  In addition to the wood recycling,

We will upcycle and restore furniture, buying and restoring old furniture from local charities.  Furniture will also be made from the wood that is collected, there are a range of different products that can be manufactured and clients will be involved in this activity.  All of these activities increase the skills that individuals will learn; we will link with other agencies who can offer additional accredited courses to allow people to increase their skill base, and progress clients onto employment opportunities with specialist organisations, should they request this support.

Key Features

  • Employability Support
  • Vocational in house courses
  • Work Tasters
  • Voluntary Placements
  • Support for all disabilities
  • Support for disadvantaged

Additional Details

Hours of availability are Monday – Thursday 9-5 Friday 9-4 on Saturdays 10 -2 we situated within DBI Services, Rennys Lane Industrial Estate, Dragonville, Durham DH1 2RS contact us on 0191 3869735 or email clients are asked to source their own lunch, our day rate is set at £31.

Applicable categories supported by group

  • Carers Services
  • Day Services
  • Employment
  • Employment Support
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Mental Health
  • Physical Disabilities
  • Training





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Workshop Testimonials

Below we have genuine customer feedback about our Shabby Chic Workshops, the more workshops we have the more testimonials we’ll add to this post.

From the first workshop people thought it should be a longer course so we listened and extended it by one hour.

“great morning, loved it! my stools gunna look fab in the kitchen now, thanks!” Claire Irvine

“Really enjoyed the course, would definitely come along again” Jill Wardle

“had a brilliant time – thank you!” Jo Gooing

“Really fantastic, lovely friendly Saturday morning” Liz Yallop

Lovely way to spend a Saturday morning, very friendly very informative, really enjoyable” Yvonne Elgy

“Excellent course, very welcoming and friendly, thank you Karen” Pat Rowley

“Excellent course, absolutely loved it and will recommend to friends” Stephanie Pinnock

“Excellent course + really pleased with my table! such a great day!” Rachel Roberts

“The course has been very informative and I will now be changing all my furniture at home, easily explained” Christine Coomber

“Wonderful day, lovely ladies and excellent choice of colours and equipment, thank you” Carly Merryweather

“Really satisfied with the workshop, and the final effect, which was achieved on my piece of furniture” Pamela Lister

“Great, friendly, effective” Sylvia Davies

“Lovely morning, thanks very much” Linda Richardson

“Very helpful, think I have found a new hobby” Lindsey Robinson

Loved it! appreciated the refreshments, tools were great! got some really useful ideas” Elaine Carey

Lovely class with nice teacher” Janice Barron

“A great way to spend a Saturday morning, I can’t wait to start on another piece of furniture, a great sense of achievement.” Vie Small

“Loved the hands on training, learned so much about painting/distressing furniture, staff excellent.” Helen Darnian

 “really good, time passed quickly and I was very pleased with the results, my piece of furniture has a new leaseof life and will look good back home.” Stan White

“Excellent course, content, materials and support, will be back, coffee and refreshments a welcome addition. thank you.” Carole Briggs

Excellent course, thoroughly enjoyed the morning” Vivian Middleton

“Thoroughly enjoyed the course, very informative and fun” Carol Hedley

“Very friendly” Jan Ellis

“A brilliant day thank you, I’ll be back!” Amber Elliot

“Fab” Joanne Jackson

“It was really useful” Amy Jackson

“Thank you you John for all the work + attention to detail, the machine desk has taken pride of place in our home, I have placed it against a window with a view, where I can sew to my hearts content + watch the world go by, very best wishes, Rosemary” a very satisfied customer after we restored her vintage sewing machine.

“Highly Recommend” Yvonne Green

“Fantastic morning, thank you, we will be back” Lucy Hinds

“Would definitely recommend” Audrey Cleaver

“Had a fantastic time on the course and learnt how to Shabby Chic, I’ll be using the very useful fact sheet to have a go at home too! can’t wait to get started now.” Cat Hinds

“Thoroughly enjoyed the course, thanks Karen” Mel Kenyon

“Thanks for ending a horrible week with a lovely relaxing start to the weekend, gentle encouragement, friendly atmosphere – perfect, I will be back” Rebecca McGranie

“We will be back” Olwyn Daglish

“very satisfied, all round , thank you” Stephanie Newall

“Fantastic course, thoroughly enjoyed the session and over the moon at the new drawers, thank you” Jenny Stockwell

“Loved what I learned today, will take the knowledge away with me to try again at home” Sue Atkinson

“Fabulous morning, informative and good that you can take home what you’ve been working on” Angela Dee

“Fantastic course, cant wait for the next one” Lesley Clarke

“An enjoyable course with very friendly trainers, hope there are further courses in the future” Debbie Duffield

“Brilliant, think what you are doing is great, more women’s workshops please.” Melissa Rooney

“Lovely course, good tutor, so friendly and helpful, can’t wait to get involved.” Rebecca Rooney

“Great course, I will be back.” Leslie Davies

“I loved it, it will quickly become my latest obsession, thank you so much, the atmosphere was conducive to learning, thank you Karen and your lovely helper Jill, lovely way to spend a Saturday.” Maggie Wright

“Loved it thank you, excellent learning” Claire Atkinson

“I really enjoyed the course and created a lovely set of tables, I now have the confidence to do the rest of my furniture” Nicola Button

“Thank you for a wonderful morning, friendly and helpful throughout” Louise Robinson

“Fantastic course, thoroughly enjoyed” Joanna Micham

“Very friendly and fun, enjoyed myself! thank you!” Rebecca Williams-Taylor

“Engaged course” Alison Morgan 

“It was really helpful, and good to know about to use in the future” Libby Minnes

Andrea “Had a fab time, learned loads, met some lovely people”

Claire “If I can do it anyone can” 

Corrina “Great course with fantastic tuition, lovely group of ladies too! Just need prosecco! :-)”

Margaret “I will be back with my granddaughters, I enjoyed it so much” 

Caroline “No pressure, relaxed happy atmosphere 🙂

Linda “Very good throughout course, definitely recommend to friends”

Upholstery Course

“Would have happily paid more for more sessions, loved the course, thank you” Jill Wardle

“It’s much harder to do upholstery than I thought, lots of details, enjoyed the course.” Mairi Kennedy

“Found it very difficult, it’s much harder than I thought, couldn’t have finished it without the teacher.” Anne Dodd

“Have enjoyed myself, can’t wait to start, there will be no stopping me”  Lisa Richards

“Excellent course, really enjoyed, please keep me informed of future courses.” Liz Walton


Xmas Crafts 2018

“Venue really good, size of group just right, great refreshments.” Jackie 

“It was fab, we loved it we will be back.” Kirsty

“Really enjoyed my Christmas Crafts.” Millie


( [testimonials] ).

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Annabell Duke

Annabell Duke



Annabell Duke Chalk Paints


We now also stock our very own paint, a colour unique to us, created by Annabell Duke Chalk Paint available soon



We now stock paints from Annabell Duke “Leaves a flat chalk paint matt finish that is smooth to the touch bringing a new lease of life to any piece of furniture either new or old, creating a distressed or shabby chic look that is so popular and highly desirable.” 

Annabell Duke website

We Stock

Chalk Paints

250ml RRP £7.95

1L RRP £18.95

Clear Wax

300ML RRP £11.95

50mm FLAT BRUSH RRP £8.95


The colours from Annabel Duke Colour Chart




Annabell Duke Stencils 

We have stencils priced at £11.95 each

2 packs available, pictures below



Annabell Duke Modern Finish Paint

Annabell Duke have just released a new paint product we have the full range in stock, a very versatile paint, where a little goes a long way. The feedback from those who have tested it say it’s amazing, smooth sleek finish and no brush marks. No preparation, fast drying, no sealing and the paint self levels. 

The paint can be used in a variety of pieces of furniture and is incredibly smooth, multi use and multi purpose. 

Available only from stockists! 

500ml pots £18.95 
150ml pots £7.95 



A video from Vintage Street highlighting the coverage of this incredible paint




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Opening day


We held our open day on 1st August 2014, all went well and we had a number of people who came along and supported us. We have recruited our first staff member with the help of Shaw Trust; Mark started with us on 23rd July 2014 and has already made a huge contribution to our project.

The Wood Pile CIC opened its doors to the public on 1st August 2014; consequently, a rollercoaster ride of fun, creativity and adventure began!

After working a good thirteen years for a national charity, Karen Stubbings decided to take voluntary redundancy and embark upon her own journey to support disabled and disadvantaged people herself. The Wood Pile Community Interest Company is the brainchild of Karen; it’s a new non-profit venture based on a tried and tested method of wood recycling and furniture restoration. The intention is to reduce wood/furniture destined for landfill sites/incinerators and recycle it instead, whilst supporting disabled and disadvantaged people into and towards employment.

Within the tiny period of time since the doors opened The Wood Pile has saved over a massive 36 tonnes of wood from certain death, either transforming it into a variety of wonderful things (thanks to our creative volunteers and clients) or up cycling it for reselling at a very reasonable price. Wood has been collected from all over the North East, from a large variety of companies and some very kind members of the public. In amongst the huge spectrum of wood collected there have been church joists; fencing; scaffolding planks; internal, external and fire doors and much more. Some of the wood collected has been transformed into benches, crackets, planters, tables and even Christmas decorations – the level of creativity and quality of work from both clients and volunteers alike has been very impressive so far. Along-side the wood, over 70 pieces of furniture have either been donated from people or bought from charity shops, and has been lovingly restored and put straight into our little shop of our own. The heart and soul of our furniture and shop is shabby chic and vintage, with a large bulk of the furni-ture and the shop itself being done in this style. We’ve re-ceived some beautiful pieces such as bureaus, china cabinets, wardrobes and wash stands, some of which have even been antique. We would like to give a super big thank you to every-one who has donated or supported ‘The Wood Pile’ in any way, shape or form up to date.

So we really have had an amazing start to the company, but none of this could have been possible without the help and support of our clients and volunteers. Currently we have a team of eight volunteers that help with a large variety of du-ties and responsibilities. The team of volunteers reflects the furniture in being so very eclectic, attaining such differing types of people (some of which include students, employment seekers and even an ex-geneticist). Dean (whom was originally a volunteer) is currently a paid employee thanks to a national charity who also provides support to him. For Dean’s story please refer to the column at the bottom right of the page. There’s definitely never a dull moment for our clients and vol-unteers who are constantly involved in joinery, carpentry, fur-niture restoration, painting, administrative duties, marketing or other activities, all depending on their skills, experience or motive for being here. We are currently seeking to build our client group and are actively seeking new clients who attain personal budgets, direct payments or spot purchase day cli-ents. If you are a potential client and interested please do not hesitate to contact us for more information or to arrange a viewing of the project.

All of our current client group thoroughly enjoy the activities at hand and we are more than confident that you will too. Also we’re easily accessible via pub-lic transport, with a number of busses passing very close by (Arriva service 64, Arriva service 22). Alongside clients and volunteers we have recently formed partnership with New College Durham who will be pro-viding an array of training courses for both clients and members of the public alike. The courses will cover many different sub-jects and will be commencing in the not too distant future. We recently held a team building event for the college in which sev-enteen employees jumped head first into a mass of hands on practical activities such as joinery, craftwork and painting. The day was packed with laughs and smiles and each participant ended the day with a beautiful Christmassy creation of their own.