Hope Tools is a small social enterprise, with two key purposes: the first is production of a sales product of value in the community, with links to our primary purposes: providing food for people in poverty and need. It forms part of a much wider group of social enterprises and charitable activity provided by the Hope group.
Its second purpose is to provide meaningful activity and opportunity for people who have been homeless, marginalised, or experienced poverty and unemployment, and who seek new opportunities, need to fill their time, gain confidence and self-esteem.

The project relies upon donations and grants to complement sales of the finished product. On their own, sales are not enough to sustain the project, which is why in the last 12 months we have reduced operation down to three days each week.
Vegware funding has been a vital bedrock to enable us to keep the project going; without it we may well have had to close. Nonetheless despite less hours during the last year we have increased the number of people working in the project considerably. On an average week there are up to 6 people using the facility, contributing over 18 hrs of volunteering/training time in addition to the paid capacity of 23 hrs. Over the past year, we have had 26 people attend for a period in the workshop. These individuals, which include one person who is present for at least 10 hrs a week, get a great deal of benefit from attending: the project makes them feel valuable and that they feel they can offer something to the community. It is particularly used by men, who prefer diversionary activities to some talking therapies; but engagement in the workshop has been a springboard to much wider engagement in other learning programmes we offer.

During the year the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn visited the project and purchased a spade!

Whilst the project, on a purely sales/costs ratio is not profitable, the board of Hope reviewed its viability this year and now subsidise the project from general charitable income, as whilst the public do not donate solely to the toolshop, they donate to Hope as a whole knowing that the toolshop is a vital part of what we offer, recognising its value. For example, we ran a stall showing the tools at Weston Favell in Northampton in August 2019, which attracted an overall donation to Hope as a whole of nearly £2000, for which the tool stall acted as an ‘advert ‘for the wider work of the whole charity. That’s its value: it is in practice a loss leader for our work, giving a very physical, practical demonstration of what we do as a whole.

Vegware’s grant goes towards the overall cost of the shop, allocated against the cost of spares and supplies for the recycling process – an added environmental value which no doubt you recognise. It is part of Hope’s wider recycling purpose which includes use of food with short life, which is distributed whilst still usable to people in poverty and which would otherwise go to landfill; and clothes, where we recycle/resell around 20 tonnes per annum, many for use by homeless people or through our charity shop. In total over 400 tools were re-purposed over the year for sale.
We added a new point of sale; our new charity shop and the product is selling well there.

On Saturday 8th June, we are having an open day at our workshop. Here, our service users will help tell the story of how we recycle our tools. We source our tools from local people, which creates opportunities to learn new skills, and raise money through their sale. We hope lots of people come along and grab themselves a lovingly restored garden tool.

Thanks as well to all those who are responding to our recent appeals for tools – lots have come in, but we need more! Email office@northamptonhopecentre.org.uk or ring 08455199371 for more information.