‘Junk to funk’ helps employment training 

(left to right) ex-Remploy worker Caroline  Norman, with Peter Betts, a volunteer from The Job Centre, and Sian Davies also ex-Remploy
(left to right) ex-Remploy worker Caroline Norman, with Peter Betts, a volunteer from The Job Centre, and Sian Davies also ex-Remploy

CHARITABLE organisation Learning Links is providing a ‘Junk to Funk’ workshop to help provide training and education to people with physical and learning disabilities.

The training is being delivered to the ‘Remploy’ group and focuses on up-cycling old furniture.

Linda Taylor, Chairman of 'Learning Links'

Linda Taylor, Chairman of 'Learning Links'

The group consists of people with disabilities who previously worked at the Remploy factory before it was closed down in 2013. The closure was part of a national policy at the time to close all Remploy factories. 

Group member and former employee, Sian Davies, said: ’I worked at Remploy for 25 years and it was a very sad day when it shut. I have really enjoyed this course and have learnt about painting, sanding and upholstery.’

Learning Links chairman, Linda Taylor, believed it was vital to maintain the Remploy group and continue to provide support to enable people to return to employment.

‘The whole point of Remploy was to provide employment for people with disabilities and educational needs who may not otherwise get that opportunity. We wanted to keep the group together and continue to provide support both socially and to help them get some form of employment,’ said Ms Taylor.

A key component of the course is improving participants’ literacy, numeracy and information technology skills.

Learning Links manager, Paul Robinson, said: ‘The end goal is to provide people with the skills to gain employment or further training. The sessions are creative and everyone is really engaged. Although we do embed maths and English into the learning process it is not like being in the classroom. For example people will use maths when they need to measure up all the materials.’ 

The old furniture is obtained from organisations such as schools and hotels. Once the items have been up-cycled they are donated to people in the process of being re-homed, people in the community with unfurnished houses or sold in charity shops.

The participants also have the opportunity to use the finished products to generate their own income.

‘Sometimes group members will sell the chairs to visitors who like the design,’ said Ms Taylor. ‘One of the aims of the course is to help people learn business skills and to see how they can turn the making of the furniture into a possible business enterprise.’

‘At our warehouse we have a person who did a previous course and now sells his products from our premises,’ added Mr Robinson.

Group member and course participant, Caroline Norman, said: ‘I have really enjoyed the course. The chairs I have made have been donated to charity to sell on.’

In addition to ‘Junk to Funk’, Learning Links have also run courses to improve people employability through providing support and guidance in the completion of application forms and constructing a CV.