CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Community woodwork project searches for new home

Ricky Jefferson helps young people and elderly but is losing his workshop due to the redevelopment of the Highgate Newtown Community Centre

18 December, 2018 — By Dan Carrier

Ricky Jefferson

A WOODWORK project which provides low-cost lessons for young people, pensioners and young offenders is looking for a new home – after being given notice to quit its site at Highgate Newtown Community Centre.

The centre is set to close in March as the council starts a long- awaited redevelopment project – leaving master craftsman Ricky Jefferson and his budding carpenters homeless.

Mr Jefferson set up Wood That Works five years ago. Since then it has grown as children and adults have joined his classes.

He originally trained as a woodworker focusing on making toys. Up to 160 children visit the workshop every week – but he fears that, unless urgent action is taken, he will have to close.

“We have been told we can return when the work is completed on the new centre,” he said. “But it is a long way off and we need to keep going while the works are done. “The council are trying to find us a new space but have not been successful so far – and time is running out.”

He is looking for a workshop or warehouse he can kit out with workbenches and tools.

“We need a space that is big enough for around 15 people at a time, hopefully in or around the Highgate Newtown area,” he added. “The simple fact is that if we don’t find somewhere soon, we will have to close. The project has helped so many – from children learning a new skill and gaining confidence, getting them away from computers, to young offenders getting some training.”

The project includes lessons such as how to build a go-kart – with the centre hosting a Grand Prix race and barbecue every summer.

Ricky has helped build items for schools.

“I’ve made sets and scenery for school plays,” he said. “We have built tombolas, test-your-strength mach­ines, tin can alleys and coconut shies for fairs. It would be a terrible shame if all this had to stop.”

A spokesperson for the council said it had identified possible alternative sites in the Highgate area.

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