If you think old, unloved wooden chairs and coffee tables are only good for the tip, think again. Thanks to a group who attend Whiz Kidz in Pennycross, Plymouth, they are now being transformed into the latest, must-have ‘shabby chic’ furniture.
The items are being upcycled by Kay Morgan, Leon Gough and Sandra Fuller who live at Victoria and Grenville House care service in Victoria Terrace, in St Jude’s.
The trio all have weekly sessions at the activity centre where they restore and paint the pieces or cover them in decoupage. The furniture is then sold to locally or via online sales sites. The group also make bird boxes.
Said Victoria and Grenville manager, Donna West: “They all really love coming to Whiz Kidz. It is the highlight of their week and they really look forward to it.
“They enjoy transforming something that has apparently out-lived its usefulness into something that is desirable and pleasing to the eye.
“Coming to the centre also means they get to learn how to use tools, develop new skills and improve their hand eye coordination.”
As well as developing their artistic abilities, an important element of Whiz Kidz is enabling group participants to engage with the local community on outings to buy or collect resources for projects, and to enjoy chatting with people who visit during group sessions.
In the summer they visit places of interest where, again, they are able to mix and interact with other visitors.
Staff from Victoria and Grenville House support the group to attend the activity centre – accompanying them to Pennycross and being on hand if they are needed.
Alan Jones, who runs Whiz Kidz with his partner Sue, said: “It is amazing to see their skills improve week by week. It is great to watch their self-confidence and concentration levels grow.
“Coming into a work setting and working alongside each other as co-workers also makes them feel they are part of a team, united in completing a common task.
“In addition, the environmental benefits of upcycling are really important – minimising the volume of discarded materials being sent to landfill and also reducing the need for new or raw materials.”
Whiz Kidz, set up six years ago by Alan and Sue, offers a range of programmes for young people, holiday clubs all with an educational theme, and job clubs and careers guidance for the unemployed.
Victoria and Grenville House supports adults who are vulnerable and have a learning disability, mental health issues, challenging behaviour and autistic spectrum disorder.
The service which occupies two Victorian terraced properties supports individuals to access community facilities including swimming, sport activities and Adult Education colleges.