The WILTSHIRE BARN PROJECT is a craft-based social enterprise scheme for Wounded, Injured and Sick (WIS) Veterans . It is based in a thatched barn near Pewsey, which already houses our bookbinding training workshop and is sponsored by the Stationers Foundation. The Project’s aim is to harness the therapeutic aspects of manual bookbinding to create an enduring and self-sustaining business for WIS Veterans.
Following successful trials last year with Tedworth House, a local Personnel Recovery Centre run by Help for Heroes, the Project has developed two areas: training and qualification of Veterans, and a product line for manufacture and retail.
The training and qualification scheme is a progressive pathway leading to a City & Guilds qualification. Students start by attending an introductory session, which lasts about two hours and is great fun. They make up an attractive notebook and gain a brief insight into the profession and the skills involved. Students then move on to a week-long beginners course at the Barn and will, in time, be able to follow a progressive programme of training that is being assessed now by City & Guilds for inclusion in the national Qualification and Credit Framework.
The manufacturing scheme produces luxury books and stationery items for retail, primarily in London. All profits from the enterprise go to the charity to sustain further training. It is currently making a brand of high-quality, durable outdoor notebooks made from finest calf leather and waterproof paper. It also produces bespoke items (such as the Tedworth House Guestbook) as demand dictates. As far as possible, all manufacturing is conducted entirely by WIS Veterans who are paid for their work. Where Veterans lack the training or practice required for certain techniques, the work is finished by the director, Jonathan Powell, himself a recently retired Serviceman trained by Shepherds.
The benefits of the Project have already been noted by staff at Tedworth House. These include occupational therapy gained through the concentration and hand-eye coordination that is required, and improved self-confidence through learning new skills in a commercial environment. To this can be added the self-esteem generated by creating beautiful products and earning some reward for their work.
The charity will not appeal to all Veterans, but for those with aptitude and interest it has huge potential. For more details, please contact Jonathan Powell at the address above or e-mail him on firstname.lastname@example.org.