Meet The Workshop Aberfeldy. The social enterprise, tucked away in a small village in the Scottish Highlands, is our official signmaker. It is run by Paul and Gina, who wowed us with their craftsmanship and sense of social responsibility. We caught up with Paul to find out more about the business.

How did the idea for The Workshop Aberfeldy come about?

I saw a programme called Mary’s Bottom Line – Mary Portas, the retail guru, set up a factory making lacy knickers in Middleton Lancashire training unemployed young people. I thought ‘I don’t know much about making knickers but I have lots of experience in making with resistant materials’ – we realised we could do the same thing for Aberfeldy but with woodworking, manufacturing, laser cutting and CNC routing.

Why a social enterprise?

Employment and training opportunities can be hard to find in our area, especially if you are not old enough to drive and the bus service is limited. We teach young people practical skills they can take on to other jobs, it’s always easier moving on from something than starting from zero experience. Some trainees discover their passion for making, stay with us and start mentoring and training other young people themselves.

Watch the video below to find out more about the workshop

Aerial shot of Aberfeldy by Markus Stitz

Do you currently have any trainees?

We currently have two employees with additional support needs. Bailey was frequently excluded at school, compounding the anxiety he was already dealing with. He now runs our laser cutters and is moving on to CNC routing. He’s doing very well, and is our only full-time employee.

Alistair is a young man with a learning disability. He does assembly work, keeps our workshop tidy and organised, and knows where to find everything. He’s quite entrepreneurial and is coming up with his own money-making projects.

All workshop photos by Iain Struthers

What do you love the most about the workshop?

Tea is quite important – we always make time to sit and have a cuppa with our folk – there have been a lot of things sorted over tea!

Could you tell us a little bit more about Aberfeldy?

Aberfeldy is a small village with surrounding hamlets of around 2000 people – an hour and 15 minutes by bus to the nearest Tesco’s! There’s always lots going on socially with music featuring quite heavily – we have a fantastic Hogmanay party in the square. We even have a community cinema. Employment opportunities are mostly in tourism and agriculture rather than manufacturing but we do make a very good single malt whisky at Dewar’s Distillery. It is a great place for exploring the outdoors with lots of nearby munros and mountain biking routes.

Check out some of The Workshop Aberfeldy’s work

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