Today’s professional joinery workshop covers 9000 sq ft of the Cprmerstome’s flagship project but retains its simple values growing from a 10ft x 8ftf a shed in the yard of one of our supported homes in 2013.
What started with small crackets and simple benches turned into a sophisticated heavy duty shed-building venture offering high quaility and solid indoor and outdoor furniture with a great finish at low prices.
Started as a platform for our supported housing beneficiaries to show the world that homelessness did not mean hopelessness, the shed business progressed quickly from shed to garage through two smaller factory units to (in 2016) and finally to our present HQ on Low Willington Industrial Estate in County Durham.
All of our products, workshop practices and their production processes are supervised and quality controlled by fully accredited, time-served tradespeople. However, Cornerstone’s success today is in no small part built on the hardwork and dedication of homeless people who individually bought into the charity’s vision and their own ability to make it reality.
Cornerstone’s founder, Steve Vasey explains the ethos of the workshop and how it works for those who are part of it as:
“Every day, we get to know the people we work alongside as colleagues. They also get to know us. The atmosphere we encourage is of a team or workforce. We work for each other to a common purpose and a goal —independence. We encourage each other, we find out our talents and the team finds a way to use them best. Many of our colleagues who have arrived homeless have gone on to become contributing and fully independent members of society. They have achieved this through our approach of being patient and allowing a reasonable space to grow at a rate that has suited their needs.”
SInce the joinery project began, the charity has evolved to include not soley homeless people but volunteer members of the public from the local community, schools and young people not accessing mainstream education, people turning their back on crime and wishing to give back to the community and people who were recovering froml addictions of all types. All contributing far more than is the prevailing negative perception.
Young people not attending school work side by side with vetted and trained adults who have lived experience of the issues that can lead to homelessness and hardship. The life experiences giving solid evidence to youngsters of the potential pitfalls in life and what would have helped them to avoid them.
There is an unbroken and uninhibited progression pathway throughout Cornerstone. Anyone entering Cornerstone at any level has the ability to contribute meaningfully by achieving skills in a staged approach. This means that a person who was rough sleeping or any of our other beneficiaries can join Cornerstone and after an assessment of needs and ability, begin to follow the progressive volunteering path, achieve the milestones and over time be employed by the charity or be in a better position to find work elsewhere. They could if they showed the skills become CEO or a board member in time. A goal all at Cornerstone would be delighted to see achieved one day.