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.