IGA News

Member Spotlight - SMaRT Garage Woolwich

Member Spotlight - SMaRT Garage Woolwich

28 January 2016

On 19th January, Stuart James visited RMI member SMaRT Garage Services in Woolwich, to help their young technicians and show support for the charity First Step Trust.

First Step Trust (FST) runs social enterprises to provide work and training opportunities from people excluded from work. This includes mental health issues, drug and alcohol recovery problems or a history of offending. FST set up the first SMaRT garage and MOT centre in 2006, and it was so successful that it generated enough trading income to cover its running costs. There are now four SMaRT garages in South East London.

Although now Director of the IGA, Stuart started his career as an apprentice and worked his way up through companies such as the AA and Carter & Carter. Through FST’s Trading Places programme, he was able to get stuck into a project and give advice and support to the next generation of technicians.

After a quick Health and Safety briefing, Stuart was allocated his task and issued with overalls and steel toe capped boots. He would be working on a car with a lot of history, nicknamed Owen.

Stuart was given the task of stripping the 1969 gearbox from Owen, due to a difficulty in changing gears beyond 3rd gear. He worked with young technicians Brett, Darren and Sarah.

Stuart offered advice for how to proceed with the job of stripping the gearbox, working on it himself and also offering supervision and guidance to the rest of the team. Along with his advice he asked them what they thought, and what they would do.

The gearbox proved a challenge as it was seized and the casing wouldn’t open. Stuart got completely stuck in, like he had never left a garage, and they made a lot of progress with the task.

After two hours of hard work everyone sat down with FST’s CEO Ronnie Wilson to share some of the garage’s success stories for young people they’ve helped.

Owen - The Story So Far

Owen was born in 1969 and lived in France until 2011 when he came to England. The man who brought him over wanted to restore him but wasn’t able to get the funds together.

Owen came to First Step Trust on 15th September 2015, and they are now in the process of re-commissioning him by sorting out a full body dip rust proofing and repaint (black roof and wheels and tyres), finishing the body panels in cream and re-chroming the bumpers and trim.

When he’s been restored, Owen will help promote FST and other charities and organisations that want to hire him for the day. The kit will include a Barista machine, a crepe maker and a photo booth. He’ll also be available to hire for the day.

You can find out more about First Step Trust at www.firststeptrust.org.uk.

If you would like to help “get Owen goin”, please contact Ronnie Wilson on 0797 105 1037 or at Ronnie.wilson@firststeptrust.org.uk.