COVID-19 grants for green woodworkers

Deadline: Friday 25 September 2020 at 5pm

Pole-lathe turningThe Heritage Crafts Association (HCA), with financial support from the Association of Pole-lathe Turners and Green Woodworkers (APTGW), is offering grants of up to £500 for UK green woodworkers and pole-lathe turners operating as sole traders and small businesses to invest in something that will help make their business more sustainable during the COVID-19 pandemic (and in the months that follow) or to ‘bridge the gap’ until future income can be secured.

Based on the result of our recent sector survey, crafts businesses are being particularly hard hit by the economic implications of the crisis, so this fund has been set up to help small crafts businesses access new markets, trial new ways of operating, or keep them afloat until they can be more sustainable.

Examples might include (but are not limited to) investing in:

  • market research and development of products suited to the emerging economy;
  • tools and equipment to make new products;
  • targeted advertising to reach out to new markets;
  • improved online presence to develop the mail order side of your business;
  • training and skills development;
  • developing online teaching/workshops as an income stream; or
  • paying the bills until a time when applicants have reason to believe that business will improve.

Applications will be considered based on the potential of the idea to develop new ways of working that will improve craftspeople’s sustainability during difficult times or to ‘bridge the gap’ until future income can be secured. As well as the grants, the HCA has some capacity to provide advice and guidance to help applicants make their idea a reality.

The deadline for applications is Friday 25 September 2020 at 5pm. Funds are limited, so unsuccessful applicants from this round may be contacted again in future if more funding is secured later, to ask if they want their applications to be reassessed in future rounds.

Applicants must:

  • be green woodworkers or pole-lathe turners practising a craft that requires a high degree of hand skill and has been practised in the UK for two generations or more, (including migrant crafts);
  • rely on green woodworking or pole-lathe turning (making, teaching, demonstrating etc) for over 50% of their personal income;
  • be based in the UK or intending to practice their craft in the UK on a permanent basis;
  • actively promote the crafts of green woodworking and/or pole-lathe turning as part of their regular practice;
  • demonstrate how they will use the grant to make their business more sustainable during and after the COVID-19 pandemic or to ‘bridge the gap’ until future income can be secured;
  • be HCA members or indicate in their project plan that they will allocate part of their grant to a year’s membership (£20 for sole traders or £40 for small businesses of two or more); and
  • not have received funding of more than £500 from the HCA in the last 24 months.


Please download an application form here and email your completed form to by 5pm on Friday 25 September 2020.

HCA steps up support with the Swire Charitable Trust

Swire Charitable TrustThe Heritage Crafts Association (HCA) is delighted to announce that it has received a grant of £90,000 from the Swire Charitable Trust – to help meet urgent needs among craftspeople, step up campaigns for recognition and help transform lives through craft.

Richard Wheater, neon bender

Richard Wheater, neon bender

The Swire Charitable Trust supports heritage and the safeguarding of endangered skills as one of its three grant-making priorities, funding charities like the HCA that work hard to protect and cultivate the skills and knowledge underpinning the UK’s heritage sector.

The funding will better enable the HCA to safeguard and support traditional craft skills over the next three years, focusing particularly on increasing the resilience of craft practitioners, developing training routes for craft, promoting craft in schools, and raising the profile of heritage crafts as a key constituent of UK culture.

Patricia Lovett MBE, Chair of the HCA, said:

“We are thrilled to be working in partnership with the Swire Charitable Trust over the next three years. This funding will allow us to build on recent successes, to further the appreciation of heritage craft skills as a vital part of the cultural life of the UK, and to help secure the livelihoods of the next generation of practitioners.”

Martha Allfrey, Trustee of the Swire Charitable Trust, said:

“The work of the HCA aligns closely with everything the Swire Charitable Trust hopes to achieve with our heritage programme. We believe that heritage crafts rightfully play a fundamental part in the UK’s living heritage, and are delighted to be supporting an organisation whose dynamic work does so much to enhance and protect the UK’s heritage craft community. We look forward to watching the HCA grow and solidify this valuable work over the next three years.”

Read the press release

Bookbinding Apprenticeship Scheme to close due to COVID-19

The Queen’s Bindery Apprenticeship Scheme will close in October, three years earlier than planned. Led by the Royal Collection Trust, the scheme had aimed to train six apprentices in the specialist techniques of traditional bookbinding.

With all full time courses now closed, this was the last opportunity for young bookbinders to obtain a comprehensive full time education in the craft, instructed by highly skilled and qualified tutors. It was hoped that when qualified these apprentices would be in a position to train the next generation of bookbinders, as well as taking their skills to binderies in the UK and abroad.

Statement from Glenn Bartley, Head of the Royal Bindery:

“Due to the significant impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Royal Collection Trust activities, the difficult decision has been made to suspend The Queen’s Bindery Apprenticeship Scheme with effect from October 2020. This decision has been made with great reluctance and regret after considering all alternative options to try to avoid this outcome, not least because of the Royal Collection Trust’s substantial and continuous investment, but also by the many donors, stakeholders, interested institutions and individuals who have supported the scheme.”

Two apprentices will be taken on by the Royal Bindery, but the remaining four are unlikely to be able to complete their full training in this highly skilled heritage craft. It is hoped that the scheme will be resumed when COVID-19 is finally over.

The Heritage Crafts Association is concerned that the loss of this scheme will lead to a long term loss of craft skills. Hand bookbinding forms an important part of our national heritage. Founded by George III in 1770, the Royal Bindery in Windsor Castle remains at the forefront of preserving the high standards of craftsmanship that are the benchmark of the professional bookbinding trade. Formal apprenticeships, such as this, are vital to the long-term survival and sustainability of the craft. Expertise in such techniques as edge gilding and gold finishing may be lost for ever unless action is taken now to preserve these skills.

Contact: Mary Lewis, HCA Endangered Crafts Officer –

Craft Uprising! – The Heritage Crafts Association Conference 2021

When: Saturday 27 February 2021, 10am registration to 4.30pm
Where: Oxford Town Hall, St Aldate’s, Oxford OX1 1BX

Sarah Corbett

At a time when populism has pushed mainstream politics to the extremes and climate change has reached a critical tipping point, craft is occupying an increasingly crucial role – to engage with those we disagree with or to take refuge within our communities of interest, to reflect the counter-cultures happening around us or to become that vital act of rebellion.

The theme of the 2021 Heritage Crafts Association Conference is Craft Uprising. The keynote speakers will include Sarah Corbett from the Craftivist Collective talking about the role of craft in change-making.

As well as the main programme of speakers you will also have the opportunity to print your own rebellious messages with Nick Hand‘s letterpress bicycle, bring your craft items for a pop-up gallery on the theme of ‘Powerful Objects’, and network with other makers from around the UK.



  • Sarah Corbett, The Craftivist CollectiveHow to be a craftivist in the art of gentle protest
  • Second speaker to be confirmed
  • Q&A session – featuring Sarah Corbett, Carry Somers (Fashion Revolution) and Dr Rachel Dickinson (Ruskin’s Guild of St George)
  • Exclusive screening of three short films featuring endangered crafts practitioners
  • Celebration of Excellence – National Honours and Heritage Crafts Awards
  • Heritage Crafts Association Annual General Meeting
  • Supporting Endangered Crafts

Tickets cost £28 for HCA members and £38 for non-members, with discounts if you become a member at the time of purchase, bring a friend or are a student. In addition, 20 bursary places have been made available to those who would otherwise struggle to attend – for availability please email


Pop-up exhibition – Powerful Objects

In a gentle way you can shake the worldWe will be holding a pop-up exhibition of members and attendees work entitled ‘Powerful Objects’. This theme can be interpreted in many ways, from craft objects that have an overtly powerful message to those whose meaning resonates on a much more personal level (not forgetting that the personal is invariably political in its own way). They can be powerful purely as a result of the journey you have been on to learn the skills and put them into practice. Meanings can be made explicit or remain the maker’s own, open to interpretation.

If you wish to submit an object that you have made, please email with a title and 200 word description, and, if selected, we’ll get back to you with the practicalities of how the exhibition will be run.



We have a sign language interpreter at this year’s conference. There is also step-free access from street level (click here for more details). If you have any other access needs please let us know.

Jay Blades in Conversation

On 15 June 2020 we ran an online event with Jay Blades (BBC Repair Shop, Jay Blades’ Home Fix) where Jay and host Robin Wood MBE were joined by 98 HCA members and fans on Zoom to listen to Jay talk about his inspirations and experiences and to ask him questions.

We have created a number of short videos from the event which you can watch on our YouTube channel:

Or you can watch the whole live stream on our Facebook live: