thinkFOUND is an SME business in the Argall Industrial estate (Leyton, E10) which produces made to order tables and benches made from reclaimed wood.
Located in the Mentmore Studios complex with Turning Earth, Uncommon Projects, Pavilion Bakery and Wilder Creative we have a Workshop of 150 sqm equipment with hand tools, power tools and industrial machinery.
thinkFOUND consists of founder and director Chris Barrett, Foundation coordinator Jessie McAlpine, employees; Solomon (Senior workshop assistant) and Jordan (Junior workshop assistant).
thinkFOUNDATION - Step Up To Work
With your help we are creating the ‘thinkFOUNDATION’; a specialised work experience platform
that will engage, educate and train those struggling to acquire the necessary skills and
experience to make them work ready. We will provide opportunities and support to members of
the community who are at risk of, or have fallen out of education or employment. This will be
achieved through the foundation’s ‘Step Up To Work’ programme, to integrate individuals into a
hands on working environment within the thinkFOUND furniture making company.
The “Step Up To Work” program will involve service users gaining experience of working in all
areas of a furniture making business that is both sustainable and environmentally friendly. The
foundation will facilitate participants to develop a set of competencies; working with both their
strengths and challenges to assist them in developing transferable skills as a way into work. As
a result, they will be supplied with a credible and individualised reference to pass on to future
employees as well as a set of practical tools and strategies that will set them up for work.
What the project will look like:
- The thinkFOUNDATION will initially run 3 days a week to ensure the business continues
to run smoothly alongside.
- This will be a pilot scheme that will run for 6 months which will be reviewed to make any
relevant adjustments. Here we can build on the experience the Crowdfund has provided
and open the foundation up to more people and on a more long term basis.
- The placement will entail having 2-4 service users attend thinkFOUND workshop for 3
days a week for a minimum of a month and a maximum of 3 months. The packages will
be tailor made to meet their individual needs.
- The age-range will be 16-24.
- They will be supported to problem solve what difficulties they have in both a weekly
peer-support group as well as an individual session; assisting them to reflect on what
they have achieved and what they need to do next.
- The competencies they are working towards will include basic work skills such as
consistently being punctual, being able to complete a set of tasks to a deadline, being a
reliable and efficient team member and having good communication and customer
- There will be a consistent specialised worker who will be able to support any emotional,
behavioural or learning needs.
- The thinkFOUNDATION will also recruit any volunteers from the community who have
any pre-existing skills in this area (e.g. teachers, students seeking placements in
relevant fields and those seeking extended careers) and ensure we are providing key
role models from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds.
To give those frustrated with a lack of meaningful work experience the opportunity to seek
structured employment, a change in career and a meaningful work reference. Success will be
enthusiastic participants who thrive within the workshop environment and contribute to the
success of a business. Participants will have learnt a variety of transferable skills, which they
can use throughout their working career.
What we will deliver:
- A safe and supportive learning space which will not discriminate against any racial,
sexual, socio-economic differences or people who have had a previous challenging past
history (e.g. school exclusion/ criminal activity).
- Service users will be working towards a set of competencies to demonstrate that they
have transferable work skills.
- Opportunities to develop skills in areas such as wood work (sanding, oiling, table
assembling, packaging)... as well as skills in time management, team work, organisation,
customer service and marketing.
- The Foundation will work with individuals to help problem solve any challenges our
service user may have, working alongside support of trained mentors/pastoral care to
meet any emotional/ behavioural needs.
- Weekly peer support team discussions lead by a trained facilitator monitoring any issues
& providing a space to share.
- They will have daily debriefs and time for reflection as well as weekly individual
appraisals in order to sign off competencies and set relevant objectives for the following
- Tailored packages to meet individual needs.
- A final certificate and in-depth reference/ report to pass on to future employees.
- Opportunities for paid employment if they excel / exceed their competencies.
Why this is important:
It is our ambition to create a flagship employment programme that gives people a diverse range
of transferable skills and a sense of confidence they may be lacking. The impact is individual to
the person taking part in the project. Some may enjoy being a part of a team and the structure
of a working environment, others will be able to utilise a job reference and woodworking skills
that act as a platform for future employment. The thinkFoundation can be a transferable
framework to inspire other businesses in the local community to take on those who would have
previously been overlooked and undervalued in the job market.
The hands on experience within a supportive environment will fill a gap lacking in many people’s
lives. We feel this is integral to our community being an inclusive, integrated and a safe place to
This programme will help those not in education, employment or training (NEETs) to be
embedded into a supportive community which may lead to fulfilling employment; thereby
reducing strain on well-fare. Many case studies have demonstrated a direct link between
socio-economic disadvantages and unemployment that can lead to criminal activity.
thinkFOUNDATION wants to build on the improvements Waltham Forest has already made to
reduce recent localised increases in crime.
ThinkFOUNDATION are also aware that unemployment, school exclusion and poverty have
strong links to mental health disorders. The NHS paper on recent mental health statistics (2017)
reported that now 1 in 8 5-19 year olds have a mental health disorder and indicated that mental
health is more common in lower income households and 1 in 10 boys with mental health issues
have been excluded from school. It also well known that suicide is now the most common cause
of death for men aged 20-49. The programme hopes with giving people a purpose and helping
them step up to work, this will reduce the risk of mental health deterioration.
ThinkFOUNDATION also has a very green focus which uses reclaimed scaffolding wood
sourced locally that would otherwise be burnt or on a landfill as well as using non-harmful
products. This of course is a very topical issue and environmental campaigners have stressed
that we now only have 11 years left to prevent any irreversible damage to our planet. We want
to continue to promote greener ethics and will highlight the importance of this to our service
We are passionate about making this happen and are determined to make it work but we need
your help. Please do spread the word. and tell as many people as you can. Don't worry if you
are unable to financially support us - being our champion will be just as good & mean the world
to us if you see the benefit in what we are trying to do.
How the project will help the environment.
ThinkFOUNDATION has a very green focus which uses reclaimed scaffolding wood sourced
locally that would otherwise be burnt or on a landfill as well as using non-harmful products. This
of course is a very topical issue and environmental campaigners have stressed that we now
only have 11 years left to prevent any irreversible damage to our planet. We want to continue to
promote greener ethics and will highlight the importance of this to our service users. We will also
continue to build on our environment credentials by:
Product - develop more products created from sustainable and recycled materials.
Process - Increase the use of non harmful treatments for our materials.
Workshop - Use new efficient machinery and tools to lower energy use.
Waste - recycle more and create less waste. Use less packaging and purchase materials and
consumable from responsible companies.
Delivery - Develop greener delivery strategy using low and zero emissions, electric vehicles.
How the project will boost the economy.
We are based in one of East London's largest industrial estate - the Argall industrial estate by
Lea Bridge station. The immediate and surrounding areas are developing very fast with large
housing projects being realised bringing in new people to the area. Our economic impact is 2
1) We are creating affordable furniture for the area made from reclaimed materials meeting
demand where we can eventually offer more jobs to people of the area which will in turn provide
wealth creation. Vital to stopping the area being a dormitory borough. Where more people live
rather than work, commuting to other areas.
2) By creating the foundation we are creating a hub, an area where people go to find craft and
learn skills. We are working with our maker neighbours to make our area a ‘maker’s space’. We
open up our workshops and create events such as markets that bring in people not just from the
area but all over london to see what we do and to purchase products and services from local
How the project will increase volunteering, jobs & education.
There are 3 core elements to the foundations DNA regards increased volunteering, jobs &
1.Within the 6months Step Up To Work program we aim to educate and skill up 8-14 people to
be work ready. We will do this within an existing company that can provide jobs at a later date to
those excelling through the program.
2. Inspiration. Using the model above we aim to inspire other businesses to follow suit and take
on more workers from diverse backgrounds thus increasing employment. works we will have
trained to be competent in the workplace.
3. The thinkFOUNDATION will also recruit any volunteers from the community who have any
pre-existing skills in this area (e.g. teachers, students seeking placements in relevant fields and
those seeking extended careers) and ensure we are providing key role models from a variety of
socio-economic backgrounds. Within the 6months scheme we aim to have trained 3-7
volunteers to become facilitators.
Sept - Oct, Acquire funding, build team and infrastructure along with policy and procedures.
Nov - Dec, Begin delivery of proposal / pilot program, duration 6months
Evaluate Pilot - March 2020
Extend and Amend program - April 2020
Seek further funding for future program growth - May 2020