Saint Michael's Workshop was established in 1984 as part of the Bowthorpe Community Trust, Reg. charity no. 1147049. Half the Trustees are appointed by Bowthorpe Church, which is an Ecumenical Partnership seeking to serve the local community.
The role of the Workshop is to help people with learning difficulties and physical disadvantages to develop their full potential. Working with wood, fostering social skills and encouraging creative and therapeutic activities which form the basis of each week.
Among our trainees are people with Downs syndrome, those with autistic traits, others with learning difficulties, those who are registered blind, needing a wheelchair or prone to seizures. They attend for between one and four days each week, giving a unique mix of people on each day. Most trainees are involved in the finishing of wood items by hand-sanding, wax polishing and oiling. Some have a particular gift for painting. Others have skills in drawing out shapes and cutting them on a fretsaw. Some have been trained in the safe use of other woodworking machinery such as the band-saw, pillar drill and electric sander. It is satisfying for each person to see their work being valued by customers, and to take a pride in keeping standards high.
There are opportunities for trainees to follow through their own ideas in designing items, and in commissioning gifts or making greeting cards featuring plywood shapes. Every Godly Play item is hand crafted and finished.
Social contacts are rich and varied. Interaction between staff, trainees and our valued volunteer helpers form a natural part of the daily routine. At lunch time there may be card-games, snooker and visits to the shops or a walk. There are regular trips to the nearby Post Office to dispatch goods, providing good social encounters with the general public as well as developing an awareness of places and distances. These contacts increase the confidence of trainees and bring an added dimension into the life of the community.