A leading councillor has visited the Beacon Centre’s Fab Lab to find out about its work supporting people to learn new skills while selling digitally crafted products to members of the public. 

Councillor Simon Phipps, Dudley Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise, dropped in at Fab Lab, based at the Beacon Centre’s Sedgley site, as part of the Made in Dudley Borough initiative.

The Fab Lab offers a range of products including personalised items such as t-shirts and mugs,  home décor, gifts and seasonal creations. 

It also supplies corporate events and other charities with products including corporate branded workwear and promotional items and has recently launched its own shop on Etsy called MadeByFabLab.

All profits from Fab Lab are donated back to Beacon Centre for the Blind to support its work with local people with sight loss and many of the items made are developed and crafted by people with a visual impairment or other conditions as part of a training programme to learn new skills and gain confidence.

This is in keeping with Beacon’s 145-year heritage as a charity, whose origins began by supporting local people with sight loss to weave baskets that were then sold by Beacon. It was one of the first charities in the UK to run a retail shop. 

Whilst the principles are the same, Fab Lab is a modern-day example of innovation and creativity, using many of the latest technologies such as 3D printers to manufacture its range. 

Councillor Simon Phipps, cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise, said: “It was fantastic to visit the centre and meet with some of the team to see the products they make.

“Fab Lab offers opportunities for volunteers and members with sight loss and other conditions to gain valuable confidence and skills.

“I wish them all the very best with their online store.”

Stella Pitt, Beacon Centre income generation director, added: “Our Fab Lab offers products that really do keep on giving. Every purchase helps us in our work to support people with sight loss living locally but could also have given someone the chance to learn new skills that could help them find work or move on in life.

“We’d also like to thank Dudley Council for their support for our Fab Lab and during the Covid-19 pandemic. It has helped us to continue supporting people when they need us the most.”

 Fab Lab products are available at Etsy store MadeByFabLab and in the charity’s shops. To find out more call 01902 880111.

This visit was organised as part of the Made in Dudley borough initiative, which aims to celebrate and highlight the work of local businesses.