HUNDREDS of vulnerable Sunderland women will benefit from a £200,000 grant.
Lydia’s House, a project which offers support and training, has been awarded the cash to open a workshop in the city.
Previously based in Northumberland, the scheme is a social enterprise initiative for women from diverse backgrounds, including ex-offenders.
The money for the workshop, in High Street East, came from Big Lottery Reaching Communities programme.
Catherine Trillo, chief executive of Lydia’s House, said work was under way for Thursday’s launch event.
“We have tons of people beavering away to get it ready,” said the 46-year-old, from Newcastle.
“There’s a need for this in the North East and it will provide lots of opportunities for people in Sunderland.”
In the workshops, Lydia’s House gives its trainees opportunities to get involved in furniture restoration, framing and textiles, in a bid to gain employability skills, confidence and qualifications.
“It’s not just writing someone a CV and getting them some interview clothes. It’s real work experience and it builds their confidence,” said Catherine.
“People can go at their own pace and go on to do a two-year course if they want.
“Vulnerable women are the main focus, but we do have male tutors and role models,” said Catherine.
“These women may have had employment difficulties, or problems with their families, we take into consideration their needs and promote peer mentoring and peer education.”
Catherine came up with the idea for Lydia’s House after doing youth work in London.
Having studied textiles and furniture restoration, she decided to combine her passion for these things with the aim of helping people, and Lydia’s House was created.
“I have a pioneering spirit. People come first for me and I like nice things,” added Catherine.
The official launch will see representatives from organisations including the Big Lottery, Sunderland City Council, the Probation and Prison Service in attendance.