This is what we did…
About London Green Wood
London Green Wood (LGW) is a cooperatively-run workshop. We teach green woodwork using traditional techniques, hand tools and locally grown wood straight from the log. We have been creating opportunities to learn heritage and ‘rural’ crafts in Hackney since 2011. We are currently based at Hackney City Farm.
By creating a space for people to work creatively alongside others, we foster friendships and community connections. By teaching people new skills, we create resilience. By working outdoors in nature, we provide a space for reflection and therapeutic activity.
- Create a welcoming and accessible green wood workshop for a diverse community of woodworkers.
- Promote green woodwork.
- Provide opportunities for people living in the city to learn traditional rural crafts.
- Create opportunities for people to learn new skills and earn money from their skills.
At the end of 2022 we had 53 members (8% growth on 2021). Currently, 28% of our membership pay unwaged or low income rates, 34% of these are female.
This year there was a focus on developing skills within our membership, on building the community at the workshop and ensuring that when members join the coop they feel confident to come back and use the space. All this activity was led and organised by members on a voluntary basis.
- Spoon Club. Spearheaded by Sam and Mat, we opened on Thursday evenings over the summer for a coop members Spoon Club. This was an amazing additional offering for our members. Spoon Club was incredibly successful in getting new members and female members in particular back to use the workshop regularly.
- Skill shares. Thanks to Spencers’ organisation, we had 6 coop skill shares. Apart from a demonstration by Monocoat oil, these were all led by members for members. These sessions have not only increased the skills of our members, they have been a tool to get members who hardly ever use the workshop back into the space.
May – Dan: wooden knife sheaths (11 members joined)
June – Spencer: Fan birds (10 members joined)
July – Jo: clothes peg from a hazel branch (5 members joined)
August – Rubio Monocoat: paints & oils (6 members joined)
October – Mat: Colour & decoration (5 members joined)
November – Jo: Leatherwork (4 members joined)
- Museum of the Home. Sharon also arranged a visit to the Museum of the Home library and archive, for members to see their collection of chairs and tools. Following this visit the Museum have enquired about LGW getting involved in their School programme.
- Coop work days and socials. There have been numerous informal volunteer days in the workshop where coop members have built and fixed equipment and made other improvements to the workshop. Our biggest one was in November with 12 coop members coming in for a big clear up day, followed by a feast and a fire (and even more people joining in the evening). We also had evening celebrations and BBQs in June and August to get out membership together. At the August event we said goodbye to Ken, who had been Deputy Manager at the Farm for many years and was instrumental in getting us into this space.
- Asylum Seeker support group
We continued our partnership with the Red Cross to offer regular sessions to the Men’s Support group from the Hackney Centre. We have worked with them since 2019. Discussions about doing the same with the Womens’ group at ongoing. As well as monthly sessions, Sharon helped the group host an event the Hackney Centre for Refugee Week, the group were able to show what they had learnt to staff and other users at the centre. Our participation at this event was funded by LGW.
Participants in this group are offered a free space on our Induction to the Workshop course and invited to join the coop at zero cost.
- Hackney Ark
Hackney Ark is an NHS service for children and young people with disabilities and additional needs. They asked us if we could run some sessions with their young people, but they didn’t have any budget for it and most of the young people they work with are from low income families. Luckily the very same week Rubio Monocoat Oil got in touch asking if they could send us some samples of their products and support our work in anyway. So we asked them to fund some sessions for Hackney Ark, and they said yes!
We ran regular school holiday sessions with the young people and their support workers. 15 young people took part. The feedback was amazing, some of them have already asked about joining the coop when they turn 18. We would love to do more of this, but need to find more funding or sponsorship for it.
- Shoreditch Design Triangle
We participated in Shoreditch Design Triangle (part of London Design Festival) for the first time. Our workshop was on the SDT map. Members demonstrated turning and carving outside the SCP shop in Shoreditch, at Spitalfields Market and at our own workshop.
These have not returned to their pre-covid levels, and so far we haven’t had any paid invitations to events. But we did attend Rich Mix Goes Green and Nunhead Cemetery Open Day, where members demonstrated and sold their work.
- Kids birthday parties
This was a new thing for us, we did two. This could be developed as a bookable option on our website.
- Corporate groups
Not entirely a new thing, as we have done a couple of small ones before, but this grew in 2022. We hosted 3 company away days at the workshop, visited 1 in their offices in Shoreditch and through a new partnership with an events company went on 2 trips to a golf club in Watford. Our corporate days were evenly split between big tech and east London creatives and designers. Corporate group sessions don’t particularly contribute to our aims, but they do bring in income for LGW and provide group teaching opportunities, which is useful for developing more members as tutors.
- The Shop
Graham built us an amazing shop inside the container to go alongside our online shop. So far 5 members are selling their work through the shop, and spoons are flying off the shelves.
Supporting other woodworkers and community projects
- Ben, member of LGW and former tutor, has incorporated Bristol Tree Craft CIC with support from LGW.
- We hired a lathe to Sussex based bowl turner Amy Leake for a demonstration at the Guildhall Yard, an event for the Worshipful Company of Turner.
- We lent the workshop and lathes to Tim Stevenson from Nunhead Cemetery and Helen Welch of London School of Furniture Making for two days on their Understaning Wood course, https://furnitureschool.co.uk/.
- We are donating our waste wood to Hackney based, Community Sauna CIC.
Campaigns and fundraisers we’ve supported
- Fundraiser for Rape Crisis (2 members participated)
- Makers auction for Ukraine DEC appeal (5 members participated)
Other exciting things members did
- Sam was a Toast New Maker, with work on display at their Carnaby Street shop, demonstrations in their shops and vessels available to buy on through their webshop. He has also featured in lots of flashy magazines.
- Spencer continues to make buttons and handles for Bethany Williams, which were exhibited in the Design Museum. He also modelled in their advertising campaign, shot at the LGW workshop!
818 people joined 128 courses in 2022. Added to our other activity above, we taught green woodwork to around 900 people.
People attending our courses at 46% female, 13% from ethnic minorities, 7% low income rates. 14% had been on a LGW course before. 95% of course reviews were 5*!
See the full courses report.
Things we are doing well with our courses
- People feel part of this community of makers.
- People know what they can do next (tools to buy, other courses and joining the coop).
- People have a lovely day, even if it’s difficult or frustrating at times, they leave feeling satisfied. This is especially important in our work rehabilitating office workers, they join our courses on their day off they need to feel looked after and inspired.
- We have a pool of 8 regular tutors and a couple of extras who do occasional sessions, so mainly we are able to cover for each other when it’s needed.
Here’s our financial report. This is a draft, we are working with our accountant on the final accounts.