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Housing group helps to shed some light on carpenter’s career


An East Durham tenant has turned his passion for woodwork into a career thanks to County Durham Housing Group

Ian Coils, 50, from Seaham has become self-employed by working with the newly formed housing group’s Employability Team.

The self-taught craftsman has launched ‘Hand Made Rustic Furniture’, which operates from a workshop in his back garden, where he carves everything from outdoor seating, to garden planters, wishing wells and household chests.

Ian said: “My carpentry was always just a hobby, but more and more people were telling me that I could make a business out of my work.

“And I didn’t think everything would come together so quickly, with local traders already displaying items I’ve created from scratch.

“I’m quite keen to craft pieces that reflect our area’s heritage, and my railway carriage planters are proving a hit.”

Ian worked closely with County Durham Housing Group’s Employability Officer, Claire Maddison, to establish himself as a small trader.

She said: “Through working with East Durham Business Service, we were able to provide funding for Ian’s shed, tools and necessary insurances to get things up and running; and after that all the hard work has been his!

“It’s fantastic to see someone so passionate about what they do, not only get back into work, but also develop a business of their own and take responsibility for the financial and administrative duties that come with it.”

More information about Ian’s pieces are available on his ‘Hand Made Rustic Furniture’ Facebook page, or by calling 07477 837 947.

County Durham Housing Group’s Employability Team works with tenants of all ages to help them find and secure employment.

To find out about the group’s approach to getting people back into work call 0191 349 7657 or email