Noel joined Emmaus North East as Workshop Manager in 2018.

“I trained as a Design Technology teacher and have a degree in technology and design. I was working for a training services company, but when they went bankrupt earlier this year I spent a few months working with apprentices at local colleges. When they broke up for their summer holiday I saw this role and decided to apply for it.

“I work with the companions to teach them carpentry skills. They come to the workshop for a few days at a time and learn how to refurbish donated furniture and manufacture items to sell in the shops. Some donations are broken or have stains, so they’re brought to the workshop where I help the companions fix the items, adding new parts or giving them a polish. It means we get the most value from our donations and the companions learn new skills at the same time.

We also use scrap wood to create items that can be sold in the charity shops. At the moment I’m teaching the companions to make bird tables, planters, trellises and other bits for gardens. I always have different ideas of things we can try out so the things we make changes quite a lot. The companions enjoy the chance to be creative and make something from scratch and the items do so well in the shops that we’re just about managing to make them as fast as they sell.

“When I was working with apprentices we were training them to work on site, putting on rooves and fitting doors; we were always trying to get them through exams and into the work place. At Emmaus we develop people’s skills so they can go into that kind of training. People come in and they’re getting trained, they’ve got somewhere to live and they’ve got food. They can move on, they can actually get themselves pulled round and get back into things if they decide that’s what they want to do. I think it gives them a really good chance to get themselves sorted and get organised, so they can get out of the homeless situation. I think the whole ethos is excellent. It’s a long time since I’ve come to work with a smile on my face, I’ll say that.”