A message from our Chief Executive Bruce Howorth

The word unprecedented has been used a lot this week, but it is absolutely appropriate. The threat we are facing from the virus and its associated economic and social effects is almost unimaginable.

The safety of our volunteers, staff and customers has been our first priority and we have adopted all the recommendations made by the government and Public Health England as far as hygiene, education and social distancing is concerned since the threat was first identified.

The support we have had from our volunteers and customers has been fantastic and we are very grateful to everyone.

So where are we now?

The Tans Café will be closed temporarily from Monday 23rd March until further notice.

Our services have run largely as normal this week, but many of our volunteers have taken the decision to self-isolate, so we have been running on diminishing numbers as the week has progressed.

We have taken the decision to limit the face to face contact our staff and volunteers have with the public. While we can control our own premises and practices we cannot maintain hygiene and social distancing as we would like when dealing with the public.

Our gardening teams are still busy with most customers wanting us to continue looking after their gardens and grounds. As this can be done with minimal contact we can achieve the social distancing which is recommended. Where necessary we have taken the decision work without volunteers if they are self-isolating. Thanks to our gardening customers for standing by us.

Our warehouse is also continuing to service its customers and we have been busy with some catering as well. Greenbox, our pack and post service has been suspended for the time being.

I am confident we will weather this massive disruption and continue to provide our services to those who need them when we get to “the other side”. In the meantime please do what you can to support those around you. One of our aims is to reduce social isolation which can have a serious effect on everyone, but especially those with learning disabilities and mental health issues. Let’s not compound the physical effects of the virus by allowing increased loneliness, anxiety and depression to follow in its wake.

We will be keeping in touch with our volunteers and supporters in the coming weeks.

Finally I want to give a huge shout out to the staff team here. Thank you all. You have gone above and beyond and I am truly grateful and privileged to work with such a fab crew.

We want to transform the lives of disabled or disadvantaged people with working opportunities.

At The Hextol Foundation we believe that work is good and that everyone should feel valued.

We provide working opportunities for people who have a learning disability or mental health condition.  Through these jobs they gain confidence, self-esteem, a sense of purpose and a way to contribute positively to society, as well as job skills and experience.

These are people who have a condition or disability which makes it impossible for them otherwise to get the experience or confidence they need to gain employment; marginalising them, making them dependent, often causing depression or other mental health problems.

The working opportunities we offer are in small businesses that we have set up in Hexham and in Newcastle. We also provide job and employability skills coaching; regular social events and activities; recognition and appreciation; and opportunities to form new friendships.

We do this by running a number of services that provide jobs in catering, packing and distribution, gardening, warehousing, property maintenance, cleaning and office administration.

The numbers benefiting and the working opportunities we offer have grown steadily, year on year. In total, since we started, some 122 people have benefited from more than 52,000 hours work in the jobs we offer; and there are 59 people benefiting from them today.


As a SUPPORTER you can help us by buying our services, sponsoring our skills training or by buying us some of the equipment we need.

Or you can help us by working with us as a VOLUNTEER supervisor or a volunteer.

There are many opportunities where you could help us by working as a volunteer – for example in the kitchen or the café at the Hextol Tans, our coffee shop and vegetarian café in Hexham – could you help?

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