People walking down a street in Manchester City Centre

Charity raising further income after accessing Skills for Growth programme

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The Brick, based in Wigan and Leigh, supports people experiencing homelessness by providing a building block for people in crisis to recovery and live well.

Four staff members working at The Brick have recently accessed fully-funded training through Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s (GMCA) Skills for Growth programme. All chose the 3D printing skills course, through the Digital Careers Upskill Programme provided by GMCA partners Serco and 3D360.

3D360’s 3D Printer course is unique as every learner builds a Creality Ender 3 – a 3D printer which is their own to take away and keep. The charity now uses its four 3D printers to create their own fund-raising merchandise which they sell at their food bank and charity shops.

The Brick used the printing equipment to create merchandise for their ‘£5 for 5’ campaign, which aimed to encourage local businesses to donate £1 a day for five days to pay for meals for children in poverty or towards an emergency food bank parcel. 3D360 designed the bespoke coin holder and printed some samples to get the campaign going. The Brick are now printing the £5 for 5 coin collectors in house using their new printing skills.

The four staff who completed the training have also been passing on their knowledge to the people they work with and support.

Wendy Doherty, Head of Fundraising and Partnerships at The Brick, said: "We are delighted to now be able to offer the people we work with the opportunity to use the 3D printers that we received as part of the upskilling of our staff, thanks to the Skills for Growth program rolled out by GMCA, the 3D printing equipment donated from 3D 360 have been used to make items for our fundraising campaigns and also as widgets in our Bike workshop.

"It is with the support of organisations and businesses like this that ensures we can continue to support the people in our community who need our help. We are looking forward to seeing what the team creates with our new 3D printer next year. There are lots of exciting ideas being discussed so watch this space!" 

Colin Stein, Workshop Mentor at The Brick, said: “I very much looked forward to the course as having been in the industry with a large industrial conglomerate, I saw first-hand the amazing opportunity 3D printing is bringing to speed up the development of new products and concepts. I believe there are going to be tremendous opportunities in both 3D printing and 3D CAD drawing sphere and anyone involved now will be 'ahead of the game' in this developing technology.

“I really enjoy using the 3D printer as a consequence of the course. The staff at 3D360 are amazing in their knowledge and I would recommend anyone with a creative mind to get into this technology.”

funded through the European Social Fund. The innovative training programmes have been created in partnership with employers who have highlighted skills gaps they are struggling to fill.

The two main offers of the programme are skills training in specific industries delivered by commissioned providers and wraparound SME guidance delivered by Growth Company through the Skills for Growth – SME Support service.

Rob Matts, Head of Skills for Serco, said: “The Digital Careers Upskill Programme is a unique opportunity for businesses to access fully funded digital skills courses that will improve their business’ productivity and give their people an opportunity to grow and feel valued. We’re encouraged to see that The Brick has harnessed their new 3D printing and design capabilities for the benefit of their service users.”

Lee Fogg, Technical Director at 3D360, said: “Paul, our co-director, and I have always had a close connection with The Brick charity and taken part in many of their fundraising sleep out nights for the homeless people of Wigan and Leigh. Wendy saw the potential in using the printers for training and fundraising, and her and Colin have been key to the close working relationship we now have with the charity.

“Wendy requested some ‘3D printed widgets they could sell’. As a result we designed some branded key rings, trolley tokens and the famous £5 collection Brick. Colin now produces the fundraising merchandise on the four inhouse 3D printers and the items are sold in their food bank and charity shops. The Brick team are great people who do amazing work in the Wigan and Leigh area for the homeless community. It has been a pleasure to work with them and we plan to continue to build on this relationship.”

For more information about what learning opportunities are available across Greater Manchester, please visit our Work and Skills webpages (internal web page).