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Ex-Grantham drug user aims to create group to help 'marginalised'

A 40-year-old former drug user has created a venture to help people who are abusing
substances and others who feel ‘marginalised’.

Father-of-two Simon Kieffer has been a charity support worker for nine years and has created Outwood, which will be a social enterprise workshop.

Simon, a former pupil of St Wulfram’s School, says he used to take drugs when he was unemployed and was low in confidence. He was put on a New Deal eight-week work placement doing ‘bad’ jobs like cleaning bins, but it gave his life structure and a sense of well-being.

He relapsed with his drugtaking for a while, but seeing how work can transform your life, he sorted his life out and got a job with the substance misuse service Addaction as a support worker, helping people with alcohol and drug issues.

Simon said: “To get away from that lifestyle, you need to fill the time.

“When I did the New Deal, I had a structure. I was not a drug user, I was Simon.”

Simon makes things out of wood, which he sells online.

He wants others to join him in a workshop where they too can learn to make things and sell them. Simon is currently looking for suitable premises in Grantham to stage the workshops.

It would repeat a similar exercise two years ago, where he was involved in an venture where he helped a group of women create a craft enterprise called Phoenix 15, which made and sold cards, jewellery and home accessories.

Simon continued: “I want people to come and volunteer, share their experiences and what they know. It will be taking people out of the environment they are stuck in.”

The workshops won’t just be for drug users, but others who feel marginalised in society, who suffer mental health issues, unemployment or social isolation.

“It will be for people of all skill levels. People can socialise, learn new skills, get a sense of wellbeing and achievement. I do like to be creative. I thought this would be something useful for Grantham. I’m doing this for nothing (no money).”

Simon is part of the School for Social Enterprise start-up group, which taught him how to launch social enterprise operations.

He recently received a grant from the Unlimited arts commissioning programme and is applying for further grants to launch the workshops.

Simon also recently received £250 from the Greater Grantham Pitchpot initiative, where he had to give a presentation at St Wulfram’s Church and those present had to vote for a winner, which was Simon.

On the night, Father Stuart Cradduck, rector of St Wulfram’s church, which hosted the pitchpot event, said he loved Simon’s idea.

Father Stuart told the Journal: “This is a brilliant idea. We will support Simon in whatever way we can and we look forward to working with him in the future.”

The next Greater Grantham Pitchpot is on Thursday, November 22, at 7.15pm in St Wulfram’s Church.

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