Preparation for ceramics production unit underway

Wed, 7 July 2010

'We are looking forward to doing the ceramics project. We want to learn new things at work'- Helen Dawson, beneficiary

REPORT 1: Irene Homes: A ceramics project for mentally disabled people

For the past 22 years, Irene Homes has run a protective work centre that enables mentally disabled men and women to learn skills, be productive and enjoy work and social interaction in a safe and supportive environment. The work centre currently accommodates more than 60 residents and day workers fulfilling contracts for government and corporate clients.

This project will establish a new ceramics production unit and support the project in its 6-month start-up phase. 10 workers will learn new skills and produce porcelain crockery sets commissioned by industrial designers associated with an established product catalogue business.

The project is expected to be implemented from September 2009 to September 2010.


Thus far, 10 beneficiaries have been selected after a total of 15 were interviewed, as per original project objectives. An additional 10 abled bodied women were selected to train and work alongside the disabled women. The women will assist with capacity to ensure that order and deliveries are made on time with the correct level of quality control.

This was not part of the original project design, but Irene Homes feels that it will not impact on the project in any way. They have considered division of duties and believe that the structure will allow for the women to work well together. The abled bodied women will eventually leave Irene Homes, with the assistance of organisation with placement in the formal sector.

Most of the project preparation, along with sourcing of equipment, has been completed. A large kiln was donated to the project, which will save on project expenses as Irene Homes only needed to pay for transport and installation. This has been installed.

Training and production is set to begin at the end of January. Training will be hands on and take place over three months on a daily basis. The trainer will stay on for a further three months though, to ensure proper application. One beneficiary will be trained in creating moulds, due to the complexity of this activity. The rest will be trained in producing ceramic goods and may be trained in producing moulds at a later stage if they show capacity.


The cost of the project is R151,731, with R88,481 still outstanding

DescriptionTotal Budget (as per budget approved by SASIX)Total Expenditure to date
Purchase & Installation of Equipment68 000 22 142
Purchase of Materials9 931 -
Production Stipends30 000 -
Security1 120-
Transport3 500-
Electricity24 000-
Admin & Accounting15 180 -
TOTAL151 73122 142

The organisation has not spent the entire R63,250 that had been allocated through the first tranche. This is mainly due to the large kiln being donated, and the fact the transport and installation costs have not been paid for this thus far.

The balance of the funds allocated to the large kiln will be used for the purchase of a small test kiln, which will be used for smaller pieces that is not necessary to be made in the bigger kiln, as the latter requires greater levels of electricity to power it up.

Materials and stipend costs will be deducted once training and production begin and operational costs will be deducted in the next reporting period.

Monitoring and evaluation

The Irene Homes Workshop Manager will be observing and reporting on quality of products produced, while the Irene Homes Protective Forum will be observing and reporting on actual production, sales and general function of the project. This will be done in the next reporting period, when training and production begin.


The project has commenced with the preparation for the workshop, and is ready to start the next phase, that being training and production. Training should begin towards the end of January, ensuring that the beneficiaries are adequately trained.

The project has changed somewhat, with the inclusion of abled bodied women in the production team. However, this is necessary to ensure honouring of client contracts.

The next phase will see beneficiaries begin production. This will allow them to express themselves through work and be productive members of society, which is hoped will lead to improvement in self-esteem and confidence.

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