Rob visits upcycling social enterprise ‘Against the Grain’

On Friday 10th March Rob visited social enterprise Against the Grain to meet the charity’s current trainees at the new workshop in Acre Road, Reading. He met with Sarah Sandle, Commercial Co-ordinator, Andrew Moore, Workshop Manager, Elliott Hamer, volunteer, and George Darling, one of the trainees on the project.

Against the Grain is a furniture upcycling project for young people designed to enhance their employability, build their confidence and enable them to contribute to a successful business. It is aimed specifically at young people who fall into the NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) category in order to expand their opportunities.

It was officially launched in October 2016 and offers an 18 month traineeship for young people to earn and build skills during their time. The project currently has two trainees and is in the process of recruiting more.

The trainees receive training from volunteers and paid staff who teach them skills in woodwork, upholstery and paintwork, in order to upcycle donated furniture. The pieces are given a new lease of life and are sold to the public; the funds are put back into the charity to continue its work.

Against the Grain will be opening a shop in the Broad Street Mall where it will showcase the furniture pieces. It is also hoping to hold a series of upcycling courses available to the wider public.

Rob said after the visit, “It is great to see charities like Against the Grain taking the opportunity to capitalise on a design trend in order to provide skills and opportunities for young people. I enjoyed speaking with George to find out about his experience and to see his new skills in action!

“Not only does this project give young people the chance to flourish by learning new skills but it also works to recycle furniture that may have ended up in landfill. 

“I know that they are currently looking for volunteers skilled in sewing and raffia chair repairs and would ask anyone with those skills to get in touch and find out how they can help this great cause!

“I look forward to seeing Against the Grain expand into their premises at Broad Street Mall soon!"

Against the Grain can be contacted on 0118 402 7157 or via email at Or visit the website at, or twitter at @ATG_upcycle for further information

Sarah Sandle said, “It was fantastic to meet MP Rob Wilson today and have the opportunity to introduce him to some of the Against the Grain team and tell the story of our social enterprise. 

“Having local support such as Rob’s is invaluable to the project and hope he will stay in touch to watch us develop and grow.”

Photo 1: George Darling and Rob Wilson MP.

Photo 2: Rob Wilson MP, George Darling, Elliott Hamer and Andrew Moore.