Where creativity helps self-esteem: a visit to The Coach House Trust Shop
For me, the shop proves what The Coach House Trust can do just by investing a little time in helping people who had a hard time in their lives.
Tourists usually take pictures with it; school children high-five it every time they pass it, while the local community simply love it, because it has become a landmark of Great Western Road, but, above all, because it's synonymous with The Coach House Trust Project. We're talking about the five foot wood carving of a hand standing proud in front of The Coach House Trust Shop. Every day since the shop opened two years ago, this beautiful piece of art has been beckoning people to stop, come in and ask about the shop, its products and what's behind them.
Sheila Richards, project leader at The Coach House Trust (CHT) - a registered charity set up to provide occupational, educational and employment opportunities for adults recovering from addiction, mental health problems, physical disabilities and learning difficulties - thought the shop was a great idea to display what the Trust achieved and showcase the results of the various workshops they provide for people who come to them. All the products sold at the shop - wood carvings, pieces of furniture such as beautiful ornate benches of the sort you might see in an enchanted wood, restored furniture, silk screen paintings, clocks, mirrors, ceramic pieces and jewellery, all at very affordable prices, going from £2 to £500 - allow whoever has worked on them to get a commission of 20% on the sale.
"This place works on a three-fold basis" explains Arthur McGough, shop manager, "first it's a great marketing tool for what the project is about; second, the revenue generated through the shop keeps our workshops running and, last but not least, it helps building up the self-esteem and confidence in the people who produce the objects, and this is great."
One of the big selling points of the shop is that the pieces of furniture and carvings are made of solid wood and are not mass-produced, since they are designed and created by the people working at the CHT. The shop can also commission stuff, so if you're after a particular object or you want an exclusive bench for your garden, you can bring in your sketch with measurements, detail of the kind of wood you'd like to be used and the shop will then consult the workshop and commission your piece.
Arthur reassures me the shop has been very successful and this is also thanks to the support it gets from the local community: its location has allowed people to become more aware of what the Trust is and, in turn, has also helped with the integration of the people it works with. The shop's customer base is quite varied: among them there are first time buyers in the area who like to keep their flat traditional with some old furniture; younger residents who want to have a cosmopolitan and trendy flat, but, above all, the shop appeals to people's altruistic side, indeed, customers like to support a project where they know they are helping those ones who are less fortunate than themselves.
"For me, the shop proves what the Trust can do just by investing a little time in helping people who had a hard time in their lives," Arthur states, "the people who work with us often come from very difficult backgrounds and it's amazing they are still communicating when you get to know what their past lives were like and what they've been through."
Next time you are in Great Western Road, let the friendly hand guide you to the marvels of this haven of creativity. You won't regret it.
The Coach House Trust Shop, 518 Great Western Road, Glasgow
Opening hours: Tue 10am - 4pm; Wed-Sat 10am - 6pm; Sun 12am - 5pm; Closed on Monday.