Thoughts, stories and events to share

Raw Workshop

Sophie O'Sullivan, about 5 years ago

Build a social business that thrives on merit, not sympathy.

Raw Workshop is a vibrant social enterprise that makes high quality indoor and outdoor furniture. They also offer a wood recycling and collection service and sell reclaimed timber. Not only do they deliver an excellence in craftsmanship, their forward-thinking ambition reduces carbon emissions and has a phenomenal human social impact.

Bees need a hive; humans need a tribe.

-Rick Mower, Managing Director

RAW proudly transforms lives for the better. What makes RAW the best is the tribe of diligent workers behind it. They employ people who face prejudice and barriers to work. Over 85% of their assiduous team have faced issues such as physical or learning difficulties, mental health illness, recovery from addiction and criminal histories. With the support of the RAW tribe, these individuals are thriving and helping to create outstanding products and services that compete in the market place. They are not labelled and patronised; they are valued and this value actively goes back into and fuels the business. This outward-looking culture helps RAW further its aim to be the best. RAW's mantra puts it simply: 'be Exceptional, not the Exception.'

We fit our needs around our crew to ensure maximum impact for our business. We strive to be the best. We're relentless. You won't beat us.

-Rick Mower, Managing Director

Every month, they create over 1,400 hours of human social impact. This reduces isolation, raises self-esteem, lowers the call on blue-light and NHS services, combats mental health illness and gives people somewhere of which they are proud to be a part.

RAW currently works directly with HMP Springhill, YOT and the criminal justice diversion services. Crime is not always the reason why disadvantaged people have experience with the criminal justice system. It is often rooted in substance misuse, mental health and negative early life experiences. As an enterprising employer, RAW recognises this and gives ex-offenders a second chance in the workplace to use their skills in a positive way and to be exceptional.

If you want loyalty, resilience, the hardest working people, hire people who have faced and overcome challenges in life. They are survivors and doers. Best employee you can have. As simple as that.

-Rick Mower, Managing Director

As a company, RAW believes in equipping their crew members with a great attitude. Skills, training and education is important, but what comes first is the worker's ability to believe in themselves and the belief in their ability to do their job well. They have created a list of '10 things that require zero talent,' which show that anyone who follows these behaviours can do a great job and can be an asset to the business. As an employer, they shine the light on what people are able to do and encourage them to get stuck in from day one. This extends to diverse opportunities they offer in anything from manufacturing to recycling and retail.

RAW also do a lot of work with the younger community through RAW Potential. This effort is to combat gangs, knife crime and improve mental health. They strive to give young people an opportunity to hear different voices and to empower them with a positive attitude. The young people look forward to launching their own social business as entrepreneurs in May 2019.

By buying from RAW, organisations can have a strong social and environmental impact without paying more or seeing a reduction in quality. It is a win-win. Their superb reclaimed wood and timber products are usually less than 50% of what major retailers charge.

Currently, less than 12% of employers actively employ ex-offenders. The aim of The EXceptionals campaign is to debunk myths and show the numerous benefits of employing an ex-offender. This potential workforce is equipped with so many transferable skills. Progressive businesses like RAW provide vital second chances that motivate individuals to engage with the potential of a bright future. They create an inclusive environment that employees collectively want to be a part of and feel proud to represent. Businesses can stand out from the crowd by showing their commitment to building a workforce that is representative of the wider community. Such corporate social responsibility is well received by customers and other businesses alike.

If you are interested in the products and services that RAW provide, please contact them via their website and keep updated with their latest projects on Twitter and Instagram