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Iconic Engine Shed runs out of steam

This news post is over 9 years old

​Iconic supported employment charity closes after funding gets pulled by council

A 6,200 signature petition has failed to turnaround the fortunes of one of Edinburgh’s best-loved social enterprises.

The Engine Shed, in the city’s St Leonards area, has been helping people with disabilities for the past 25 years.

But Edinburgh City Council revealed last year it was stopping funding for training in place of a new supported employment scheme.

The move means dozens of people with learning disabilities will be made to go elsewhere.

Campaigners said the loss of The Engine Shed would leave a “huge gap” in provision for vulnerable residents.

As it prepared to close its doors, 200 people packed into the second floor of the building to bid farewell.

Former trainee Sean Palmer praised staff and urged the young employees to “hold their heads up high”.

The 21-year-old, who graduated from the project last year, said: “I’m sad to see The Engine Shed close, I have a lot of fun memories from here.

“The first time I came in I was 16, and I was really immature. But I left The Engine Shed a sensible young man.

“It helped me build up my confidence, and the friends I have made here have all stayed with me for the rest of my life.

This is a platform for people to move into jobs - Marian MacDonald

“I want to say a big thank you to you all. I hope all the staff and trainees have a bright and happy future. Just remember, don’t let anybody put you down, and hold your heads up high.”

The decision to cut its funding has been widely criticised.

Some aspects of the operation however could remain open, it has emerged.

Chairwoman Marian MacDonald hinted at a possible future for The Engine Shed, with proposals to expand its organic tofu-making business and even some tentative plans to look for new premises.

She said: “Obviously on the one hand, we are really happy to see so many people – but on the other hand, we are actually closing and this is our last day of training.

“The point about the training we had here was that people came in and had a lot of help and support, and then they moved on. This is a platform for people to move into jobs and to do whatever they plan to do.

“It’s about giving people the opportunity to learn. They were taking a step at a time in their own way. We were offering people who had never had a job the chance to come in and see what that would feel like.

“The main point, we would say, is that one model does not suit all. People need a range of models.”

She added: “We want to carry on. We want to see if we can fit into a new and changing environment.”

The Engine Shed is the third disabled workplace in Edinburgh to be forced to close in recent years, with the BlindCraft bed and mattress factory shutting up shop in 2011 and Remploy factories closing two years later.

A council spokeswoman said the new city-wide employment support service would give those with a disability “the best chance of finding a job”.



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Elspeth white
over 9 years ago
I think this is really sad to hear and dont think it can be replaced by a city wide employment scheme which is not likely to cater for individual needs and different paths of development in such a holistic way .
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