Hexham social enterprise launches project to build employability skills through musical instrument repair

Hexham's Core Music has opened a separate workshop where up to six people at a time will learn and practice the skills needed to repair guitars and make ukuleles

Andy Mann The opening of Core Music's Hexham social enterprise
The opening of Core Music's Hexham social enterprise

Six jobs have been created by a social enterprise which aims to provide training opportunities for unemployed people.

Hexham’s Core Music, the Gilesgate-based shop and community facility, has opened a separate workshop where up to six people at a time will learn and practice the skills needed to repair guitars and make ukuleles.

The idea is supported by a European Social Fund grant, secured through the County Durham Communication Foundation, to equip the premises in Burn Lane.

The project is designed for people who are new to the jobs market and want to improve their CV or those who are long-term unemployed and need helping back into the workplace.

It is centred around the creation of “Ucoreleles” - ukuleles made from recycled and reclaimed wood.

Rachel Heathcote, project developer at Core Music, said: “I’m really excited about this project; we’ve got some great people involved and I’m looking forward to it all coming together.

“In particular, I’d like to thank Derek Telfer at MKM for supplying wood to make workbenches and Chris Howard at the Jobcentre Plus, who not only helped fill the current spaces, but also gave up his free time to build the workbenches.

“We’ve also had a lot of support from local guitar makers Stefan Sobell and Haydn Williams – Haydn is going to be working closely with the team to teach them his skills – and Paul Walsh at Trunk Reclaimed, who will be supplying us with the wood needed to make the instruments. We couldn’t have got this far without their help and advice and we are very grateful to them.”

The workshop will provide space for participants to learn practical skills such as the use of hand tools and woodworking techniques, as well as transferable skills such as communication, teamwork and problem solving.

Mike Coleman, Core Music’s founder, added: “When I first opened the doors six years ago I didn’t just want to provide a space for community music, I wanted to be able to employ local people and create jobs.

“In addition to our freelance music tutors and volunteers, we’ve now got four employees working in the shop and behind the scenes, and through the Ucorelele project we can help even more people get back to work.

“What’s great is that it’s right here in Hexham; they don’t have to travel all the way to Newcastle, which can be prohibitively expensive when you’re out of work. I found myself wondering why we import ukuleles from China when we could be making them here in Northumberland - so that’s what we’re doing.”

Core Music opened in 2008 with an aim to provide access to music for anyone, no matter their circumstances, age or ability.

As a social enterprise the profits from the shop are reinvested in community music activities, some of which are supported by grant funding.

County Durham Community Foundation (CDCF) manage charitable funds donated by local individuals, families, businesses and trusts.

The organisation administers the European Social Fund (ESF), which was set up to improve employment opportunities in the European Union and so help raise standards of living.

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