Thornham Magna: Long-standing group wants premises in Stowmarket

DISABLED people hit by rising travel costs are searching for a more central base for their workshops.

Street Forge Workshops, which has been based in Thornham Magna, near Eye, for nearly 25 years is looking for a new home in Stowmarket because its clients are struggling with the cost of travelling to the rural location.

The project offers training for adults living with disabilities who then sell the items they have made to generate extra cash for the scheme.

With clients’ disabilities ranging from wheelchair use, through to poor sight, mental breakdowns and learning difficulties, complicated travel to the current site can be both expensive and impractical for many.

Manager Jenny Crampton, 62, said: “New premises close to travel links in the centre of Stowmarket are being actively sought.

“With the help of local councillors and an active network of trustees, a number of potential sites have been investigated already.

“We are ideally looking for a central site perhaps with buildings, which is perhaps no longer commercially viable as a result of road layout changes or limited lorry access.

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“But to date, nowhere has been found which is economic, suitable and available.”

The workshop currently offers training in IT, craftwork, cookery and horticulture.

Suffolk Social Care Services recognised the project’s potential for developing skills in their clients, and West Suffolk College formed a partnership which allowed Street Forge to offer nationally-recognised qualifications to attendees.

Horticulture training was originally offered in Thornham Magna, and then through a partnership with the county council at the Suffolk Resource Centre (SRC) for severely disabled adults in Stowmarket - and staff have looked at the potential of moving other courses to the centre.

“There isn’t enough spare space in the buildings at SRC for our woodworking activities, although the rest of our activities could be accommodated, in theory,” Ms Crampton said.

She said staff had consulted the county council over plans to build a new woodwork centre at the site but it is unlikely planning permission would be granted due to the proposed height and traffic concerns.

Trustees of the project have brought their diverse experiences together in identifying potential building costs as well as possibilities for adapting existing buildings.

If you would like to learn more about what the project does, the products which are made and maybe what you can do as a volunteer, visit www.streetforge.org, or call Ms Crampton on 01379 678543