How it all began
In the late 80s, three local Christian couples, meeting and praying, had the vision to start collecting furniture to give it to those they knew were in need of it. So they set out with an estate car and some storage space in a garage under the name of ‘Crewe Christian Concern’, but soon grew out of the space they had. At the same time, St Paul’s Church became available as a building as the congregation had dwindled away, mostly due to town planning. They bought the building and in 1988 St Paul’s became the base. The charity kept running, at this point as ‘3C Teamwork’, always with the vision to help those that are on the margins of society. A wood-workshop was added and small meeting room built in the main church building.
When Rob Wykes came on board in 1996, he saw a new vision expressed in the words “Hope, Dignity, Confidence & Opportunity”. The first step was to install a mezzanine floor with a purpose-built conference room upstairs, almost doubling the floor space of the building, but importantly creating space to relate to people and share community. During that time, the work of the charity was refocused and expanded. The referral system was organised and a school uniform re-cycling project added with a fully functioning laundry.
In 2004, another part of the Mezzanine floor was used to build several counselling rooms for the new Kerith Pregnancy Crisis Counselling project. In the same year, we championed the introduction of a system through which we could trace each item of furniture from donor to recipient. This allowed us to receive Waste Re-use Credits from the then Cheshire County Council as we diverted up to 200 tonnes of furniture from ending up in landfill by giving it away 4 days a week on referrals and through the sale on a Friday.
Throughout the years, the number of adults with additional needs has increased, as more and more have become part of our community, or rather, family. Just like our other volunteers, they are involved in office work, on the vans, in the Centre and receive training on computers and in the Workshop.
We have long been a facilitator for training in the area, working with South Cheshire College, and providing internal courses. In 2009, we officially launched our Community Training Centre, with courses funded by Cheshire East Lifelong Learning (CELL), both within the organisation to all our volunteers and staff, as well as for the community. This also includes therapeutic sessions in the wood-workshop, where our learners are able to explore their skills in handcrafting toolboxes, bird tables, wooden train sets, etc.
With funding support, we have been able to make the entire building wheelchair-accessible and, in 2009, moved the entire operational offices from the old Sunday school hall to the mezzanine floor in preparation for a conversion of that building into conference/ business facilities.
That’s the journey so far, and if you watch this space, I’m sure there will be much more to come.