Tackling Homelessness Through Creativity

Homelessness in the UK is on the rise. Homelessness has an extremely negative impact on mental and physical health, and in particular, homelessness can be both a cause and a consequence of long-term unemployment. Currently, over two million individuals in the UK are long-term unemployed. Both unemployment and homelessness have been shown to be critically damaging to individuals’ wellbeing, affecting self-esteem and self-worth in addition to the more visible material consequences. This makes it more difficult for them to make steps to change their situation, which then reinforces these feelings of isolation and of hopelessness. We hope to break this cycle.

TuffCycle is a Social Enterprise (CIC) which aims to tackle some of the issues that may prevent homeless individuals within our community from finding fulfilling employment. We provide the opportunity to take part in a meaningful, regular activity, helping to build supportive networks, confidence, and healthy working habits. For TuffCycle, this activity is the making and selling of furniture and homewares utilising recycled and reclaimed materials. We believe that providing engaging, creative projects has a direct impact on individuals’ self-worth, and seeing a project through from start to finish has a huge impact on their confidence.

TuffCycle began as a project in the summer of 2014. Working with those who were experiencing homelessness highlighted the complexity of the difficulties they faced, and they quickly voiced how there was a real need for services like the ones we were offering. We knew then that we needed to work towards meeting this need further. So we began to expand, increasing our contact time and the support we offered. In April of this year TuffCycle was established as a CIC, its own company with a focus on sustainability and social impact. We are continuing to evolve and grow. We are proud of what TuffCycle has achieved to date, but we are excited to continue to work together to maximise the difference we can make.

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David’s Story

“When I first joined TuffCycle in December, my confidence was at an all-time low. Now, it’s at an all-time high. Through working with TuffCycle I started feeling like I had something to offer, like I was a real person again. I have been able to use my knowledge of woodwork and channel my energies into something creative, helping to design and build our furniture. I’ve gained CV writing and interview skills and after being unemployed for the last seven years, I finally feel like I’m ready to start work again.”

Said’s Story

“I started TuffCycle when I was homeless and living in a hostel. My confidence was really low and I didn’t think that I’d be able to stick with the programme. But as I got into it, I became more involved and my confidence grew. Now I feel like one of the core people in the project. I’ve completed a table, which I never thought I’d do, and with TuffCycle’s help feel better able to apply for jobs and attend interviews. I’ve started to think about new ways of using skills I already had. I’ve now moved out of the hostel and have got a job. Being able to stick to this project has shown me that I can achieve anything I put my mind to.”