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National Volunteer Week

National Volunteer Week, when is it?

June 1 to 7

What is it?

Organised by The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) in partnership with Volunteer Development Scotland, Volunteer Now (Northern Ireland) and Wales Council for Voluntary Action, Volunteers’ Week is an annual event.

It celebrates the contribution made by millions of volunteers across the UK. This year’s theme is ‘you make the difference’ with a call to action to others to think about what they can do. How can you make the difference?

That is something we at The Furniture Scheme know to be true – our centres, workshops and shops have huge volunteer input and the volunteers make a real difference to how we provide our services!

What is happening?

As part of National Volunteer Week this month, The Furniture Scheme in Shropshire is thanking its volunteers for all their hard work.

At our centres, The Rockspring Community Centre in Sandford Road, Ludlow, and The Craven Arms Community Centre in Newington Way, Craven Arms, we will be showing our appreciation for all our volunteers.

Chief executive of our organisation, Jean Jarvis MBE, said: “Through volunteering, people can take positive action to make a difference to a cause they care about and make a difference to both individuals and communities every day.

“We rely on our volunteers and we couldn’t run our charity without them.”
We help them build their confidence and self esteem and leave ready to face new challenges.
“Many have mental health challenges and we support them to manage these issues so that they are able to take part in life again,” she added.

“It really is wonderful to see our volunteers gain new skills and get their confidence back.

“But it means we are always in need of more volunteers because those we help go off and get jobs, which is wonderful!”

Our charity is looking for people for roles like reception and helping set up rooms.
We try to suit what volunteers are interested in to the roles that need filling and we will always, where we can and if they want to, put people into training and learn new skills.

Being part of our team is great to make a difference to the local community but also to make new friends and add experience to your CV.

How can I volunteer?

Ten week placements are available with opportunities for feedback and review to make sure things are going well. This can be part days or full days.

All volunteers have the opportunity to take a qualification and get employability support if needed.

Help is given with travel expenses.

For more information about volunteering, contact Di Hyde on 01584 877751 or email: diane@furniturescheme.co.uk.

New planters for doctors surgery

Mental health patients of a GP surgery in South Shropshire have helped make new community planters to improve the building. The planters were made by people with depression, anxiety and other issues and have been put outside the surgery in Station Road, Ludlow.

The craftsmen and women were referred by MIND or GPs to the carpentry workshop, run by Social Enterprise Mark holder The Furniture Scheme in Lower Galdeford.

Dr Caron Morton, PR partner at the practice said the whole project has been a huge success. She said: “We wanted to do something different, we wanted to see if it could be made by local people, preferably by our patients. People can drive or walk past and say ‘I helped to make that.”

“It is about community and GP practices supporting local people, it has been great to work with The Furniture Scheme and I hope it starts other businesses thinking about what they can do to get involved in the community.”

The planters contain herbs such as lavender, hot and spicy oregano, thyme, marjoram, strawberry mint, french tarragon, sage and rosemary. Dr Morton said this was to help people learn more about what goes into their food and encourage young people to lead a healthy lifestyle.

The doctors will be providing scissors for young people to take a cutting and use at home and plan to install a bench, working towards a sensory garden. The planters are so large they had to be dismantled at the workshop and then rebuilt outside the surgery.

Stefan Laird, Carpentry Workshop Supervisor, helped to guide the patients through the build and said it was a good project. He said: “One person needed to be shown where to go and wouldn’t go into the workshop on their own at first. But after four weeks they got a job. It has been great to share my skills with a new set of people once again.”

The Furniture Scheme was launched over 20 years ago as a way to ensure some of the most excluded members of the community could benefit from recycled household items. It now runs Rockspring Community Centre in Sandford Road, Ludlow, and the Craven Arms Community Centre in Newington Way, Craven Arms. Activities include computer courses, carpentry workshops, volunteering in the garden, a holiday scheme for young people, weekly community lunches and a choir.

The planters project was funded by Bupa, and Jean Jarvis MBE, Chief Executive of The Furniture Scheme, said working with people with mental health challenges is a large part of what they do. “People get referred to us through doctors and agencies but can self refer too. You could just walk in to one of our centres and we will do what we can to help.

“Our members are taught skills and through this they gain confidence and self esteem and can lead fuller lives. This is just one of a number of community projects we have done, in the past we have created planters for Ludlow in Bloom, provided new furniture for local pubs as well as restore their furniture already there and we have done work with Ludlow College for five years, upcycling furniture with design students.”

Rockspring Community Lunch

A weekly community lunch which has brought hundreds of people together has been hailed a huge success as it marks its fifth anniversary.

The Rockspring Thursday Lunch held at The Rockspring Community Centre in Ludlow was launched to offer people the chance to meet others in the area.

Organised by The Furniture Scheme and run by volunteers, the event has attracted residents of all ages from new mums with babies to pensioners who may not see anyone else that week without going to the event.

Jean Jarvis MBE, chief executive of The Furniture Scheme, said hundreds of friendships had been made and the lunch, held every Thursday at noon, regularly attracted more than 30 people.

Miss Jarvis said: “The weekly lunch is amazing and the stories which come out of the event are fantastic.

“We have a 91-year-old man who comes and loves his weekly lunch and the friendships he has made.

“At the other end of the age scale we have new mums who may feel isolated at home but at the lunch they can come to Rockspring and enjoy a warm cooked lunch and a good conversation and lots of fun.

“During the holidays we continue the lunch which is vital as so many things close during holidays but this is the time the children can come along and have their lunch with their parents, carers, guardians or grandparents. Childminders and friends also enjoy the lunch.”

The food is cooked by volunteers and served for just £2 per head including a piece of homemade cake.

Miss Jarvis added: “This lunch is just another one of our successful initiatives which helps to combat isolation and loneliness but also creates a fantastic sense of community and friendship.

“A support network is essential and the lunch has proved extremely popular and will continue to grow year on year.”

The profits made from the launch are totalled at the end of the year and used to pay for a complimentary Christmas lunch for 40 people. Father Christmas also visits to see the children and a community choir entertains the residents.

Anybody who would like more information about the Rockspring Thursday Lunch should email rockspring@furniturescheme.co.uk, ring 01584 874922 or arrive at the community centre at 12noon any Thursday. To see what is being served this week, click here 
Anyone who has any dietary requirements must let the organisers know in advance.

For more information about The Furniture Scheme visit www.furniturescheme.co.uk.

The Joy of Books – Part One

I was reading a newspaper article recently that reported that physical book sales (as opposed to e-books) are on the rise again. This set me thinking about books and reading….

I’ve always loved books and reading. As a child I devoured popular children’s fiction: ‘The Famous Five’ and ‘Secret Seven’ stories by Enid Blyton and ‘Just William’ by Richmal Compton were some some of the series I went through at a proverbial rate of knots. Through my teenage years and every decade since I’ve continued to read. I’m no literary snob – I’ll read pretty much anything (although romantic fiction doesn’t figure in my reading tastes) and this includes classics, contemporary fiction, crime and science fiction, biographies, science, natural history, history, sport, politics and popular culture.

As a book reader I sometimes find myself talking to people who will ask me about my favourite book or books and, having read so much, its quite hard to draw up a short list of favourites. I thought it might be fun to have a go though!

In Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs guests are asked to choose 8 pieces of music to take to a Desert Island (and one book). I’m going to choose my 8 favourite books instead of music tracks – but for to keep your attention this is a two partner, so you’ll need to wait for another instalment.

So here goes:

1. Guards, Guards by Terry Pratchett
(Sir) Terry Pratchett was a comic and satirical genius who created the fictional ‘Disc World’. He has been compared to PG Wodehouse and justifiably in my opinion is ranked as a fine writer of comic fantasy fiction. His books are full of sharp observations of humanity despite being set in a fantasy world. Its hard to pick a favourite book but ‘Guards, Guards’, the 8th in a series of 41 novels, makes my list. It introduces the character of Commander Sam Vines of the City Watch. Think of it as a sort of police procedural – but with dragons, dwarves and slapstick.

2. Touching the Void by Joe Simpson
A good adventure story always thrills and as I like mountains and tales of adventure. The trouble is that most mountaineering literature is desperately dull. Not so ‘Touching the Void. Joe Simpson and his companion Simon Yates were claiming in the Andes when disaster struck. What followed was a remarkable and testament to one mans will to survive.

3. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell
An unashamedly socialist novel, published in 1914, the story focuses on working class painters and decorators in a fictional town. What Robert Tressell does is take what could be a rather ‘worthy’ subject and turn this story into a moving and at times desperately sad account of the impact of poverty on ordinary people. Despite its age somehow it still seems relevant today.

4. Guide to the Western Fells by AW Wainwright
A bit of a cheat this – as Alfred (AW) Wainwright produced seven guidebooks to the Lake District Fells and the ‘Guide to the Western Fells’ is one of a series. My mountain walking adventures first started in the Lake District and it wasn’t long before I acquired copies of AW Wainwright’s guides. Produced by ‘AW’ between 1955 and 1966 each guidebook is hand written and contains descriptions of ascents, quirky observations and detailed pen and ink drawings and hand drawn maps make the series a joy to read over and again. A must for any fell walker.

I guess if you’ve got this far you probably like reading too. And, if like me you are constantly looking for the next ‘good read ‘, then why not do what I do from time to time and head down to either the Furniture Scheme bookshop in Ludlow at the back of the Renaissance Shop or to ‘The Charity Bookshop’ in Craven Arms. You’ll find plenty of choice in both shops and some real bargains too.

Even better to save cluttering up your home when you’ve read something – take it back as a donation so someone else can read it too. All of the funds raised by both bookshops go to support the wonderful work of The Furniture Scheme – so everyone wins.

I’ll reveal my final 4 book choices next time…so for now:

Happy Reading!

Chris Boote – Trustee for the Furniture Scheme

Seven reasons why people volunteer

I never tire of hearing the reasons why people volunteer, and there are many. Here are seven of them…

1. Being able to use their wealth of life skills and experience after retirement
2. Because giving up some of their spare time to volunteer could bring new opportunities.
3. To build confidence and self-esteem – maybe after a setback in life.
4. To gain experience in a new area, gaining useful employability skills.
5. To meet new people and make friends.
6. To give something back to their local community.
7. To have fun!

Jean Jarvis MBE – Chief Executive of The Furniture Scheme

Life as a Trustee

What do you actually do then as a Trustee? This is a question I’m sometimes asked by my nearest and dearest – who I’m sure suspects that most of my time at the Furniture Scheme is spent in meetings drinking tea and eating biscuits.

Well – time to confess. There are meetings, hot beverages are available and there are sometimes biscuits too!

However, there’s a bit more to being a Trustee that tea and biscuits. I’m going to try and explain what being a Trustee of a charity or not for profit organisation involves.

As a Trustee, I’m one of a small group of people who are responsible for making the key decisions about how the organisation is run. At the Furniture Scheme, there are 6 of us – all from different walks of life and backgrounds. None of us get paid – we all give our time because we support what the Furniture Scheme is doing and want to help it be a success.

We meet every 3 months or so as a Board to make sure the goals of the Furniture Scheme are being achieved, that we are managing our finances properly and we have a plan for future activity. The Furniture Scheme is a bit more complicated than you might expect – we run community centres, retail shops, a carpentry workshop and a warehouse. At every Board meeting Trustees have opportunities to question the Chief Executive and senior managers on how things are performing – and suggest action we can take to deal with problems or to improve what we do.

Why do it? Well I can’t speak for all Trustees but for me it gives me a chance to use skills and experience from business and life in general to help an organisation that in turn helps people in my community who may be in less fortunate circumstances. I’ve met new people and been able to learn things and join a great team.

Life as a Trustee can occasionally be challenging and often stimulating – but there’s always tea and biscuits!

Chris Boote – Furniture Scheme Trustee

Give as you Live

Please help us raise funds for South Shropshire Furniture Scheme at no cost to you.

Give as you Live is a shopping and price comparison website with a heart. You can shop for products from thousands of leading online retailers including Amazon, Ebay, John Lewis, Debenhams, Argos etc; use the price comparison tool to ensure you get the best price and even save money by using the exclusive offers and deals available on the site.

Don’t forget, a percentage of every purchase you make will be donated to a charity of your choice.

Where does the money come from?
Like other price comparison websites, they generate money through affiliate marketing. This means that retailers pay them commission each time a sale is generated for them through the site and they pass at least 50% of this on to the charity of the supporter’s choice – hopefully South Shropshire Furniture Scheme!

Click on link: http://www.giveasyoulive.com/join/furniturescheme

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