Hi my name is George Blythe and I started the Tool Shed Preston CIC. My story is probably the same as many others out there but I will start with a little bit about myself.
I have lived in Preston throughout my life and have had many jobs from leaving school. I started my working life as a time served joiner and then did all sorts of things such as security, warehouse, labourer, site-loading, cleaner, laminate floor layer to name just a few.
Then I found myself unemployed with no qualifications in the jobs I had done only experience, and soon found that it wasn’t good enough for prospective employers, they all wanted that piece of paper that said I could do the job. All I needed was a foot in the door to prove myself. After a long period of being unemployed I found myself getting bored and isolated not doing a great deal in fact it was like the same thing day after day then.... the job centre put me on the work program with Learn Direct.
They asked me what I wanted to do, what skills and experience I had and after a while I was introduced to Omar Khan from Preston United and was put on placement with him. Preston United had just moved into the Healthy Planet Community Hub in the old TJ Hughes store n Fishergate and in the run up to the official opening there was all this stuff being delivered: Victorian pine tables, up-cycled furniture and other bits and pieces. When I asked Omar where they were from he explained that a company called Total Reuse in Skelmersdale had donated all the furniture in the building and the items on display were made by Total Reuse. Omar introduced me to a man called Martin Gamester and made the suggestion of me going up to Skelmersdale to show me what they did.
I have to say I was remarkably impressed with what I saw and the staff and volunteers there were welcoming, friendly and supportive and wondered if I could do something very similar in Preston. With the great support of Total Reuse and Learn Direct and with Healthy Planet giving me a space for free in the Fishergate Centre set up a workshop. Initially we drew stock from our friends in Skelmersdale to sell in the showroom and generate some income. Preston United purchased so tools for us so that we could start to repair and refurbish stuff and Learn Direct signposted other like minded people our way.
I quickly realsied that this was what I wanted to do. The philosophy of Total Reuse is simple, if it's reused, it doesn't need recycling and the Tool Sheds are aimed at men like me who have experienced a life changing event such as redundancy, ill health, divorce, separation, bereavement or through circumstances have become lonely, isolated or depressed. I wanted to do something that would make a difference and setting up a Tool Shed in Preston would.
We established Tool Shed Preston as an independent community interest company working in partnership with Total Reuse CIC. I now run my own Tool Shed, sharing skills, knowledge and experiences (not forgetting the teas and coffees), with a group of regulars and we up-cycle and recycle furniture and if required we will do custom jobs at a customers request. We also have low priced office furniture for start up businesses.
We've recently welcomed Eco Structures into Tool Shed and have added upholstery amongst other things to the services we can offer.
So if you have any unwanted furniture, tools, bikes, whatever you may think would be useful please feel free to donate to us here at Preston we would be more than grateful, also if you feel like popping in and having a look round or have a view to volunteering a little of your time we look forward to seeing you or hearing from you.