Jennyruth Workshops is a thriving business. It is also a charity which exists to meets the needs of adults with learning disabilities, enabling them to gain confidence and life skills through the design and production of a wide range of high-quality hand-crafted items.
The workshops provide a safe, peaceful working environment in which our 28 workers feel secure, appreciated and confident.
The Coronavirus has threatened the very existence of Jennyruth Workshops and not just because we have lost access to all our sales outlets and fund-raising activities and hence a significant part of our income.
As soon as the lockdown started, we knew that our workers would struggle with the imposed self-isolation. Most found difficulty understanding what was happening and were upset at the loss of their daily routine and their parents and carers were daunted and dismayed at the thought of having to keep them happily occupied on a full-time basis. We needed to think of ways to avert the possibility of deteriorating mental health problems.
In a very short space of time our staff devised systems that enabled the work of the charity to continue, albeit remotely, while still meeting the needs of the workers.
Packs of materials including paints, brushes and products to decorate are left for collection in a large crate outside the front door. When the painting has been completed workers return the completed products to the crate and collect another pack.
The system is simplicity itself and is working very well. We are sent lots of photos of work being done in homes around the area, with proud workers displaying finished products on our Facebook pages.
A few weeks ago no-one had even heard of Zoom meetings but these have proved invaluable for keeping in touch with the workers and for them to be in contact with staff, trustees and each other. There is a variety of other online activities - story telling, quizzes, Makaton classes, competitions and lots of other group activities. This, together with our dedicated Facebook page means that we can continue to deliver a full, carefully structured weekly timetable which ensures that our workers are provided with a wide choice of opportunities, mirroring and even surpassing what would normally be on offer at the workshops. It looks like the sky’s the limit and more ideas are being planned daily.
A new on-line shop enables customers to order products, and bespoke items. Orders have come in from far and wide spreading the Jennyruth name beyond North Yorkshire and making a noticeable contribution towards the large hole where our income from sales used to be. (https://www.jennyruth.co.uk/shop)
We are receiving a great deal of positive feedback from families, carers and workers. The online work is recognised as making a significant contribution to the mental health of workers, volunteers and staff. Everyone is being kept very busy, involved and engaged and this is generally very much appreciated.