When we were set up in the mid-1980s, we were known as The Cellar Project. A Social Worker working on the Rehabilitation Ward at Scalebor Park Hospital in Burley in Wharfedale realised there was little opportunity or training to assist people with long term mental health problems back into employment. The name originated from the fact the project comprised of three workshops that ran in the cellar of a Victorian house, which was being used as a group home for people who were recently discharged from hospital.
The first workshops
The Cellar Project ran 3 workshops; woodwork, textiles and painting. All contributed towards a range of children’s play furniture and dressing up clothes which were sold through craft fairs at first and later through a catalogue. The aim of the project was to provide a relaxed, non threatening environment in which people who were recently discharged from hospital could gain confidence and social skills before applying for paid employment.
An independent organisation
The fact that the project was an independent organisation from the very beginning, with no formal connection with hospitals, or social services, was seen as one of its strengths. People who had become disenchanted with the statutory bodies felt accepted at The Cellar Project.
A new home
By the 1990s The Cellar Project had outgrown it’s humble premises, so rented part of the old St Walburga`s Catholic Primary School on Farfield Road, Shipley, eventually taking over the whole building and buying it. It still remains our home, although we also deliver some of our work from other locations around Bradford, Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven.
Over time our service evolved further to focus support around vocational activity. The workshops were established as Skill Shops, with a focus on building confidence and developing a range of skills. In addition to this, the Vocational Development Team was developed to support individuals to action plan, and overcome any barriers to recovery.
In the face of a challenging economic climate, we have worked hard to ensure that we are as financially sustainable as we can be. We face ongoing and new pressures, both for the organisation and the people we serve, in the external environment including the cost-of-living crisis.
This has meant that we have had to navigate returning to a new version of ‘business as usual’, with the difficulties
and benefits of hybrid working, increased demand on our services at the same time as implementing some big changes and fabulous new provisions. It also means that we move ahead, after a very tiring two years into a period which will continue to test our resilience.