Connecting to help develop skills

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It’s always inspiring to see how local charities are connecting together to help people develop their potential.

The Connecting Ripon meeting in July was well attended by charities taking the opportunity to share good practice, hear about other organisations working in the Ripon area and finding ways to work in partnership.

One of the local charities which find the Network valuable is Jennyruth Workshops. They support adults who have a learning disability to gain confidence, teaching work and life skills. It is a vibrant social enterprise which makes handcrafted wooden, metal, fabric and card products, gifts and bespoke commissions.

Jennyruth has been making many links with other organisations in the community. A bespoke Jungle Play Toy was made for Ripon Toy Library, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Ripon. In partnership with Ripon Cathedral, they have supported refugees by delivering clothing and baby items to the Open Doors drop-in centre in Hull. The Centre requested a toy box for the refugee children, which was presented to them in February.

A large number of bespoke bird boxes and bird tables have been made for the residents of the British Legion Lister House Care Home, decorated in military colours and camouflage. Jennyruth are looking at further ways of working with the residents, including running art and craft workshops for people who have dementia.

Links have been made with local businesses, which sell handcrafted greetings cards and keyrings, colourful bird boxes and a variety of other products. A teddy-bear themed honesty box is also going into The Bear House at Newby Hall.

Jennyruth workers have lovingly designed, constructed and painted wooden life-sized Ripon Figures. They were made possible by funding from Ripon City Small Grants Scheme and are now available for use by the community. They provide a local resource with some information and the relevance to Ripon on the back of each figure.

There’s an opportunity to see the figures and meet some of the Jennyruth team on Ripon Market Square on Saturday August 19, 10am-2pm at the Alice Tea Party. There’ll be a craft stall, a cake stall and children’s activities too.

The Workshops have 36 very valued volunteers, most of whom volunteer for a morning or afternoon a week supporting and enabling learning-disabled colleagues. If you would be interested in volunteering with Jennyruth, Denise or Joy would be happy to hear from you on 01765 606620 or email

Jennyruth are always keen to hear from any local businesses, schools or groups interested in working together. As one of Booths three charities of the year, they are looking at ways of connecting with the other two charities. The team are developing a wildlife area at the workshops, with plans to expand to run nature and craft workshops. They love visiting local groups and talking about their work, showing the ability and talent of workers who have a learning disability. And of course, if you’re inspired by the fantastic Ripon figures, you may want to discuss your own beautiful wooden bespoke project! Find out more at

Connecting Ripon Network is open to anyone wanting to work together with others to make a positive contribution to community life in Ripon. There is always a need for more volunteers of all ages to get involved and Connecting Ripon brings groups together to develop. Find out more at or phone 01423 504074.