Charity Corner: the Starbeck charity that puts mental health at the forefront
Last updated May 22, 2022

Claro Enterprises is a Starbeck charity offering those with mental health conditions a real work environment to find a routine and talk to others who may be feeling similar.

The charity was set up 35 years ago by Chris and Sue Brown. Ms Brown’s brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and they found giving him jobs on their farm would really help him but when the work stopped his mental health would decline.

At the time they couldn’t find any local services to support him so through lots of fundraising the pair set up Claro Enterprises to offer people with mental health disorders the opportunity to volunteer in a real work environment.

Over the years the charity has developed and now runs a workshop and a production line and has contracts with large companies such as Bettys and EnviroVent to make products.

On a daily bases, members might be creating wooden products from scratch, or rebranding or packing products for businesses.

Claro Enterprises woodshop

Two men using the charity’s wood shop.

Operations manager, Helen Wilkinson, said:

“We have people who would struggle in a normal work environment but really benefit from having a routine. It works really well for people will mental health conditions and they can choose how often they come.

“There’s a real sense of community here.”

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The charity has around 35 members who can come as regularly as they want to work, it not only helps them but also gives their families a break.

The charity also runs courses throughout the year including self esteem and wellbeing, mindfulness, IT and basic maths and English.

Veterans Woodcraft, a group helping those with mental health issues and disabilities, have helped the charity’s members learn new woodcraft skills.

It is also the base for the Starbeck Men’s Shed and Women’s Shed. These groups are for anyone in the community to learn new skills and enjoy some company.

Ms Wilkinson said the end goal is to get the members “to a point where they can do what they want”:

“Some of our members have gone on to get full time jobs and work experience which is just amazing.”

The charity is always looking for new businesses to arrange work experience placements and provide work for the members to do at their premises to allow Claro to continue to offer their facilities to those who believe they could really benefit.

Miss Wilkinson added:

“It really is the bestest place in the world, we are just one big family.”

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