Charity showcases work at anniversary open day

Workwise open showcase. Ben Brace and Lenny Hiscock in the boat.
Workwise open showcase. Ben Brace and Lenny Hiscock in the boat.
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A CHARITY which helps people with mental health issues back into employment has scooped a £10,000 grant for a boat- building project.

Workwise, in Bury St Edmunds, has been awarded the money from Suffolk County Council to allow them to construct and promote the craft, which will be sold on the open market.

The work and the charity’s other services were showcased as part of an open day on Monday to celebrate its 25th anniversary.

West Suffolk College, Riverwalk School and West Suffolk Mind were among those who visited the organisation’s three sites, including in Chamberlayne Road and Hospital Road, to get a taste of its training in business administration, IT, manufacturing, woodwork and embroidery.

The charity focuses on work- based rehabilitation to help those with mental health issues back into employment, training or community participation.

Suzanne Mildinhall, development and personalisation officer, said: “The open day is about breaking down the stigma of what we do and letting people know there’s somewhere to re-skill, regain confidence, get support and get back into work. I’ve had four or five potential new clients come through and we’ve had some business and commercial partners visit as well.”

Workwise has helped more than 5,000 people since it launched, including 672 in the last two years.

Among them is Pam Gosling, who has visited the charity for about four years and enjoys the textiles work. She said: “I was very withdrawn and started coming to Workwise one day a week, where I got a lot of help and support. I then went to two days a week. It gives me structure, I’ve met such lovely people and learnt such a lot.”

Simon Arnold, 38, of Stowmarket, joined five years ago to study an IT training course. He now volunteers at the organisation to carry out various IT and web design tasks.He said: “It gives me a daily routine and helps improve my ability to communicate with other people. It also provides substantial amounts of training – both on the job and specific courses.”

An exhibition covering the history of Workwise can be viewed at its shop, Cavern 4, in Whiting Street, until October 20. An art competition on mental wellbeing has also been organised for children and adults. Call 01284 755261 for further information.