A COMMUNITY which provides meaningful work opportunities and home life for adults with learning disabilities is hoping to expand its good work with a brand new craft centre.

The Lantern Community in Folly Farm Lane, Ringwood, is home for 30 residents who are able to take part in a series of workshops onsite such as weaving, pottery woodwork, crafts, arts, garden and estate work.

There is also a shop and cafe, which is open to the public, and a bakery. The companions live in seven houses on-site and one off-site, supported by residential and non-residential staff.

The Lantern Community’s proposal, which was submitted to East Dorset planners last month, involves building a pottery and flexible adult education workshop together with a weavery and seasonal crafts workshop to replace the existing facilities on-site.

Emma Borbley, day services manager, said: “It’s been 10 years in the making of having a new craft centre to replace the existing buildings which are made up of old sheds and adapted buildings.

“We also aim to open up the workspace to people who might have a child or adult with learning disabilities for one-day workshops.”

The cost of the build is around £800,000 and the Lantern Community, which is part of the international Camphill Movement, is still fundraising.

Emma said: “Each person who lives here choose where they want to work each day.

“They can choose two areas a day, although the majority of them will choose to focus in one particular workshop.”

One of the workshops is the thriving bakery which is led by Ashley Black and uses organic ingredients.

Their goods are sold in the shop and will be sold again at Ringwood Market in the spring.

The bakery is also part of the Real Bread Campaign.

Emma added: “We receive lots of local support which is really good. They come in and see the people with learning disabilities working here and get to know them.

“People want to buy things that are made by people and have some meaning behind them.”

l Donations for the workshop build can be made to Lantern Workshops and sent to Lantern community, Folly Farm Lane, Ringwood, Hants, BH24 2NN.

Or contact them on 01425 479926 or at <&bh"http://www.lanterncommunity.org.uk">lanterncommunity.org.uk<&eh>

The bakery team

ASHLEY Black has worked as head baker for more than a year now and said: “It’s really rewarding and you can see people grow.

“I always say it’s the best job I have ever had and I look forward to coming to work every day.

“I have worked in bakeries for 24 years and this is the most unique job I have had – everyone is happy and friendly.”

Gemma Andrews is Ashley’s apprentice and is studying for a City and Guilds. She said: “The companions love working here and are always happy.”

Resident Gareth, 39, says he has been part of the Lantern Community for the last 20 years. He said: “I make the cheese buns and use the machine to make them. I like it here and like bread making and kneading.”

His colleague Simon, 30, said: “I like sorting the flour and weighing it.”

And Raana added: “It’s great. We are a team.”