Melissa Wale
Useful Wood - Business for good

Sometimes, circumstances seem to arrange themselves in such a perfect and timely fashion, it’s hard to imagine that it is all merely fortuitous.

To those behind the conception of The Useful Wood Company, a swift series of events – which delivered the perfect circumstances for the project to flourish – had God’s loving stamp all over it.

It started with the shared vision of a handful of church members in Woking – a desire to address local social issues via a new social enterprise company. This company would seek to prioritise social justice, ministry of the poor, and community outreach.

However, with woodworking being recognised amongst the skillset of this group of outward-looking Christians, the idea of a doubly beneficial project soon began to form.

Taking inspiration from some established community wood recycling projects – originating in Brighton and now totalling over 30 projects across the UK – volunteers with The Useful Wood Company would collect unwanted wood from building sites (charging a small fee to do so), skilfully manufacture these into saleable items, and use excess wood as firewood or have it pulped for biomass.

Suddenly, this proposed project could not only help the disadvantaged to gain skills, confidence and potentially a fresh start – it could also help save the world! Over-excited statement? Perhaps! And “Saving the world” in this context of course means “reducing wood waste going to landfill, thereby reducing carbon dioxide emissions”. Yet when it comes to both social issues and environmental crises – in this world of so many loud, opinionated voices passionately pointing out where we’re going wrong and who’s to blame, or even burying heads in the sand or nihilistically denying any worth in attempted solutions – is it not wonderfully refreshing to hear of communities quietly but diligently doing what they can to contribute? No matter how seemingly small the impact from a single area or community, these initiatives are catching on and small efforts can add up on a big scale.

With so much positivity to be gained, it was no surprise to this group of faithful Christians that God answered prayers and delivered opportunities – but his sheer speed and generosity on this occasion was amazing and unexpected for all!

Within a short space of time and with seemingly minimal legwork, local contacts were made which led to a local businessman offering the perfect premises for the project. This premises is larger and more appropriate to the needs of the workshop than could ever have been anticipated. It is a short walk from the centre of town, with good transport links nearby, and sits opposite The York Road Project – an emergency and longer-term accommodation facility for the homeless, providing the opportunity for partnering with another organisation for the good of the city and its individuals.

There’s no doubt that God’s grace will continue to bless these devoted Christians, but time will tell just how wide the positive ripple effect of The Useful Wood Company will be!

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