How a blacksmiths wants to help the homeless forge new careers

Local artist Leigh Dyer with Emmaus residents at Emmaus’ Ditchingham site, alongside forge tools. Ph

Local artist Leigh Dyer with Emmaus residents at Emmaus’ Ditchingham site, alongside forge tools. Photos: Emmaus - Credit: Archant

A brand new blacksmithing forge could help homeless people to get creative while learning a new trade that could put them into secure work.

A local artist, Leigh Dyer, who is a sculptor specialising in stainless steel metal, will work with a Norfolk and Waveney based charity to train people in the ancient art of blacksmithing, as long as the charity can raise needed funds.

The homelessness charity Emmaus Norfolk and Waveney has launched a fundraising appeal to build an on-site blacksmithing forge, to teach the homeless how to work with metal.

Mr Dyer will also work with the charity and homeless people to collaboratively design a sculpture for next year's Waveney Valley sculpture trail.

Emmaus provides accommodation and meaningful work experience in social enterprises for the homeless, funding training so people "can rebuild their confidence and self-esteem, while gaining new skills to get them back into employment".

Based in Ditchingham, the charity now hopes to open the Orchard Forge on their site which also boasts a second-hand shop, cafe, and upcycling workshop.

"At Emmaus, we know it takes much more than just a roof over someone's head to help them overcome homelessness," said Emmaus chief executive Cecile Roberts. "That's why we provide meaningful work in our social enterprise and continue to look for ways to offer exciting opportunities for learning new skills."

READ MORE: Council begins £292k shelter provisions for homeless during winterThe charity is looking to raise approximately £14,000 through the social tech start-up platform, Alice, which freezes donations until charities can prove they have achieved their set goals.

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This means that when someone gives to the Emmaus project through Alice, their donation is guaranteed to make an impact, or they get their money back.

Mr Roberts said: "We don't just support people for a few weeks, or even a few months. There is no time limit at Emmaus and when someone comes to live with us, they make it their home until they are ready to live independently.

"This project was suggested by the people we support as a way that they can learn something new, but also because they wanted to be able to create metal goods to sell in our shops to raise money for the place they call home."

Emmaus has set goals for The Orchard Forge project and donations will go towards training Emmaus residents, building the forge, equipping the area with tools and workbenches, and creating the sculpture.

To donate to The Orchard Forge project, please visit their donation page here.