Coniston Stonecraft Has Teamed Up With Right2Work In Cumbria
Right2Work (which is part of the Oaklea Group) – teaches young people practical skills, including reupholstering, and how to repair broken furniture.
During a visit to its workshops in Kendal, Coniston Stonecraft‘s MD, Brendan Donnelly, – spotted an opportunity for a partnership, when he saw youngsters revamping old tables. He said: “I know from experience that a beautiful Westmorland green slate top can transform a tired old table into a real statement piece, – and I know that there’s customer demand for that kind of piece.”
“We’ve set up a partnership, whereby Right2Work will repurpose old table frames that they pick up, our skilled craftsmen will fit beautiful slate tops, and the tables will be sold to customers. Right-2-Work’s learners will be helping to put together professional products for commercial sale, – and the organisation will receive a cash benefit,” he added.
Whilst talking to Right2Work’s Regional Manager (Peter Bradbury), Brendan realised that the two organisations could form an eco-partnership. Peter pointed out that the foam his staff removes from furniture was ideal packing material for fragile slate gifts and signs being sent out from Stonecraft’s workshops on the slopes of Coniston Old Man.
At present, the foam is sent to landfill, – and Stonecraft uses cloth roll ends from a friendly Lancashire distributor, rather than plastic bubble-wrap, to pack its slate. Brendan said: “Now Right2Work is going to give us their foam for packing, and we are going to give them the roll ends to use as materials for cushions and upholstery, to help their learners develop skills. So, we’re helping a worthwhile charity – and we’re both helping the environment. Everyone wins!”
Right2Work’s Regional Manager, Peter Bradbury added: “This is yet another example of us working alongside local businesses for the good of the community. The collaboration with Stonecraft allows us to reduce our waste and help more people learn skills for their future work-lives.”
Brendan Donnelly turned the business around just 19 days before the first COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020, and he bought the long-standing slate company out of administration.
Standing since 1976, he drove up the online sales, and orders boomed – resulting in the company hiring two more apprentices to cope with the success. Now, the business is sending hand-carved bookends to customers all the way in New York.
For most of his life, Brendan worked in sales, and prior to buying Coniston Stonecrafts, he owned a franchise in the Midlands – selling cleaning chemical products. But, his ambitions sat elsewhere, and he was more interested in acquiring a business in Cumbria, preferably in the manufacturing sector, and Coniston ticked the boxes.
Brendan bought the business back from 12-year-long-owner, Alex Robinson – who decided to sell, as he was recovering from cancer, and he refocused the business to work collaboratively with their customers, offering them the option to design what they wished for, and trusted Coniston to create it for them.
Right2Work (R2W) is a growing and thriving organisation that carries out an increasingly diverse range of activities from a well organised and bustling centre. They’re a Community Interest Company (CIC). Their long term strategy is built around 3 key elements: community, learning, and wellbeing.
You can find out more about Coniston Stonecraft here: https://conistonstonecrafts.co.uk
And Right2Work here: https://www.right2work.org.uk