THE North Pennines AONB Partnership has teamed up with a regional charity that supports adults and young people by providing them with practical opportunities to make a better life for themselves.
Teenagers from Willington-based Cornerstone Supported Housing and Counselling have worked alongside staff from the AONB Partnership to create a new range of outdoor furniture for its visitor centre in Teesdale, County Durham.
Cornerstone provides alternative provision for schoolchildren who struggle in mainstream education. Steve Vasey, the charity’s CEO, said: “The young people who come to us don’t fit in at school and they tend to be more practical. When they come here they can really explore what they are capable of.”
With training from workshop supervisors, the teenagers have created a range of outdoor products ranging from wheelchair accessible picnic tables to benches and planters for a new nature garden at Bowlees Visitor Centre.
Simon Wilson from the AONB Partnership, who worked alongside Cornerstone, said: “The standard of the furniture they have made is fantastic. As soon as we heard about Cornerstone and saw the quality of what they do there, both in terms of helping young people and actual output, we wanted to work with them. I’d recommend them to anyone and we’re looking to do more with them in the future. We’re also very thankful to the Teesdale Action Partnership who funded this project.”
One of the young people responsible for making the furniture is 14-year-old Jack Blackett from Barnard Castle. He said: “I really enjoy going to Cornerstone. It’s better for me than school and it’s good for my future because I want to be a joiner. It’s good to see the furniture in place and in people’s homes.”
As well as providing alternative education for young people, Cornerstone also helps adults through support, community work and counselling to help them overcome social, health and financial inequalities.
Steve said: “For these young people doing work like this is empowering. At school it’s often a case of adults just telling them what to do but here we work alongside them. We started Cornerstone in 1996, working with homeless adults when the damage is already done but with these guys we hope we can catch them early and help them change direction so they don’t end up on the wrong track.”
Cornerstone makes a wide range of indoor and outdoor furniture available to the public as well as businesses. For every £9 spent the charity can help provide someone with a night’s shelter or help to provide practical training for young people. For a list of products and prices, visit www.cornerstone-housing.org. For opening hours and events, visit www.viistbowlees.org.uk