A charity which helps homeless people in South Tyneside is carving itself a new niche – selling upmarket restored furniture.
Customers are being promised ‘shabby-chic’ when they step into Emmaus North East’s soon-to-open workshop in South Shields.
Goods will be made from cast off furniture and given a new lease of life by expert David Hall and his volunteer team.
The former art teacher and fine artist has been hired to oversee operations and inspire helpers in their work.
Restored items will then be sold from the outlet at St Hilda’s Industrial Estate, and other North East locations.
To make the project a success, Emmaus, which operates a 15-bed accommodation centre in South Shields and a shop in Hebburn, is appealing for donations.
Bosses are looking for old furniture, cast-off wood – and even unused woodworking tools.
It also wants volunteers of all ages – including retired people with woodwork skills or youngsters looking for work experience – to take part.
Sue Wilson CBE, president of Emmaus North East, said: “David can pretty much do anything with wood, metal and paint – he’s ideal for this role.
“We resell in our shops a lot of the furniture donated to us, but not all is in a good enough condition for that.
“In the right hands, it is possible to restore furniture, and we plan to do that and create some very nice pieces that will have sale value.
“We are looking for people to support this volunteering or by donating – every garage in South Tyneside must have unused wood in it that would be perfect for us.
“The workshop also allows us the opportunity to give woodworking skills to those we support and to any volunteers.”
Emmaus provides accommodation and often life-changing support to people made homeless.
It works to restore their self-confidence and belief, and prepares them for independent living and employment.
Those it helps, known as companions, will work in the unit – which is currently open as a furniture sales outlet only - to gain new skills.
Emmaus says the site also has room for three volunteers at any time.
Leftover wood, including that from pallets, will be sold as kindling for fires.
The centre will fully open early in the New Year, and anyone who would like to volunteer should call Emmaus North East on 0191 497 5302.
More information on Emmaus is at www.emmaus.org.uk