In November I began my volunteering at Anchor & Sail, the boat building project within GalGael, with a four week introduction to carpentry. This took the form of learning four basic woodworking joins: Half Lap, Mortise and Tenon, T-Bridle and Dovetail.

GalGael is a charity based in Govan, Glasgow, best known for their Journey On program teaching woodworking to individuals with backgrounds of unemployment and addiction to help them to move forwards with their lives. Although I was officially working with the boat builders at Anchor & Sail, my first few weeks were spent working alongside the Journey On participants.

I really enjoyed spending some time simply working with my hands – it was very tricky to get the joins right and proved quite a fun challenge! Almost the biggest challenge was completely consistent concentration while working: one small slip with the chisel would mean missing my line and compromising the entire joint and the day’s work. Above this though, there was something deeper to my experience.

Making and Equality

When I picked up my chisel for the first time, I was an (almost) complete beginner, just like everybody around me. It was actually a very humbling experience working alongside a group of people who’ve had so much less opportunity in life yet to feel at completely the same level as them.

Everyone who picks up a chisel is an equal, academic or addict.

I’m really excited to be based in GalGael for at least the next month and to develop these thoughts and ideas and to learn more about the social impact that the Journey On program has had on the local community.

And this week, after finishing my training, I begin my work learning boatbuilding!

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