This shows Cyril on the left holding a t-shirt made in our Fab Lab

A UNIQUE programme to teach people with sight loss new skills while raising funds to support others has been expanded thanks to a generous donation. 

The 5/344 Transport and General Union Benevolent Fund Charity (ex Goodyear workers) has funded two new items of equipment in Beacon’s Fab Lab with a donation of more than £8,000. 

The Fab Lab creates gifts and products to support the Beacon Centre’s work while giving people impacted by sight loss the chance to learn new digital manufacturing skills and improve their confidence. 

The new equipment, an embroidery machine and a resin 3D printer, will enable the charity to expand its product lines while teaching people new skills. Beacon staff were able to demonstrate how the equipment works during a recent visit to the charity by representatives of the fund including Chairman Cyril Barrett, Trustee Roy Dudley and Management Committee member Paul Baugh. 

The Fab Lab space has also been renamed the 5/344 Suite in honour of the fund which has donated a total of £105,000 to Beacon over the past seven years supporting projects designed to improve the lives of visually impaired people in the community. 

Beacon Centre Chief Executive Lisa Cowley said: “We are so grateful to everyone involved with the 5/344 Transport and General Union Benevolent Fund for all their support.

“Through our Fab Lab in the 5/344 suite, we’re able to help people impacted by sight loss to realise their potential while supporting our work at the same time. Thanks to this donation we’ll now be able to further develop our product range and training courses. 

“We’re so proud of the difference it is making for people but none of this would be possible without the support of the team at the 5/344 Transport and General Union Benevolent Fund. Cyril’s passion for helping others is inspiring and we hope the lives changed through this project, will serve as a fitting legacy in the years to come.”

Since January this year, the 5/344 suite has hosted more than 50 three-hour lessons to teach people new manufacturing skills with beneficiaries going on to find work or start further education courses. 

The 5/344 Fund Chairman Cyril Barrett added: “Our support for the Beacon Centre goes back to the 1980s and to our union members the charity is very special. Since the Goodyear factory closed we have supported around 130 projects with local registered charities in Wolverhampton and the Black Country. Every project is about creating a proud living legacy to all the ex members of the 5/344 Branch Transport and General Workers Union Benevolent Fund Charity.”

Products made by Beacon are sold via the charity’s Etsy page which you can find here