Charities and social enterprises in the UK continue to step up to support households in need

1.55 million households in the UK were helped by reuse charities and social enterprises in 2018. This is just one of the benefits of reuse shown in the Reuse Network Social Impact Report 2018 which is published today (Friday 23 November) to coincide with Buy Nothing New day, the ethical alternative to Black Friday.

Reuse charities and social enterprises, reused 3.5 million furniture and electrical items last year supporting people access affordable household items in the UK. Accessing reused furniture and electrical goods has produced £448 million worth of savings for customers compared to buying items new.

Craig Anderson, Reuse Network CEO says: “The last 12 months have been difficult for many reuse organisations, as we received reports of charities closing their doors due to financial constraints. In spite of this, the reuse sector has stepped up to ensure that households continue to access affordable furniture and electrical items.

“Our commercial partners, including John Lewis & Partners, IKEA and Dixons Carphone are instrumental in supporting members of the Reuse Network and their beneficiaries in accessing good quality items at affordable prices thanks to donations and takeback schemes.”

In addition to diverting 3.5 million items in the last year to households in need, the reuse sector supported over 52,700 people are supported through volunteering, training and work placements and employed around 5,500 people part-time and full-time.

Craig Anderson says: “Our members go far beyond the provision of reused household items, they become a hub for their communities in providing key services and support networks”.

The environment impact of reused furniture in 2017/18 has allowed 120,270 tonnes of household items to be diverted from landfill and saved 129,250 tonnes of CO2 emissions. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) report published yesterday (Thursday 22 November) proposing price caps on credit charges for
rent-to-own goods is welcomed progress in protecting those more at risk of debt and financial crisis.

The Reuse Network works to ensure that no-one is without a bed to sleep on, a cooker to cook on, or a sofa to sit on, wherever they live in the UK.

For more information about the Reuse Network and to find your local reuse charity, please go to reuse-network.org.uk

ENDS –

For further information contact:
Claire Charras
claire.charras@reuse-network.org.uk
0117 954 3578
0772 6358 243

Notes to the editors:

  • The Reuse Network (formerly the Furniture Re-use Network) supports reuse charities across the UK to help them alleviate poverty, reduce waste and tackle climate change.
  • Craig Anderson, Reuse Network CEO is available for interview.
  • For the Reuse Network it is reuse that provides an answer to the UK’s serious waste problem – turning it into a solution for the alleviation of poverty instead. By shifting behavioural attitudes of the public and corporations and using innovative schemes such as retail take-back scheme and supporting product stewardship, the Reuse Network is a game-changer in putting the circular economy into motion.
  • The Reuse Network Social Impact Report 2018 can be accessed from https://reuse-network.org.uk/charities-and-social-enterprises-in-the-uk-continue-to-step-up-to-support-households-in-the-need from Friday 23 November.
  • Images are available to use and download here and to credit the Reuse Network.
  • Buy Nothing New day is an initiative set-up by the Reuse Network, encouraging the public to swap Black Friday for Buy Nothing New day and shop at their local reuse charity.

Meet Rob!

Rob Gardner

Continuing our celebration of volunteers and staff at the Furniture Scheme this month we would like you to say hello to Rob!

Rob Gardner worked at Rockspring for many years before The Furniture Scheme took the building over, so he really is part of the furniture here.

He started as a part-time caretaker, now he is in demand as our general caretaker and assistant overseeing maintenance – he is our ‘go to guy’.

His generous nature and willingness to always be available to help out means he lends a hand wherever he is needed, if there is a staff shortage or emergency situation. Rob kindly took over cooking the community lunch at Rockspring every Thursday when the previous volunteer stopped.

So, get to know Rob…

My background: I have held various roles over the years. I’ve worked at JP Wood & Sons, the turkey factory in Craven Arms, as a farm hand and a steel erector. I started as a caretaker at Rockspring when I moved to Ludlow after getting married.

What my job involves: Essentially, I ensure that all the sites are running well and there are no maintenance problems. I also open up and close the building regularly and book outside contractors for major repair jobs. I usually have a tool belt on and I’m not adverse to getting stuck in with the gardening too – I maintain the grass cutting.

Regular questions I get: Can you do this please? Is the most regular question I get! Or rather, it’s not a question, more of a ‘Rob will do that’. I get alerted about all the issues that need fixing, light bulbs replacing and stock needs purchasing. It is really fulfilling to know that the social enterprise is running well and helping as many people as it can.

A typical day for me: There isn’t really a typical day for me. I have a big list of things to do and I work through it, whenever I find an hour to spare, across all the Furniture Scheme sites.

I work in the warehouse a couple of days a week, I clean the bookshop at Renaissance and also the Sure Start and Baptist Church which neighbour Rockspring too.

But every Thursday I cook the community lunch, so generally a Thursday goes like this:

8am – Arrive at Rockspring, open up and make sure it is clean and tidy.

9am – Tick a few odd jobs off my list if I can and then start laying out the tables for the community lunch.

10am – Begin preparing and cooking lunch for up to 30 people.

12pm – Serve the community lunch.

1pm – Complete the community lunch and begin the tidy up.

2:15pm – Head to Renaissance and fix some book shelves and anything else the needs doing.

3:15pm – Call in at the workshop to complete another job which has been on my list to do.

4pm – Finish for the day.

Something I am proud of since starting at The Furniture Scheme: I’m proud of the way the job and the social enterprise has enabled me to learn new skills to improve the range of things I can do here, it has given me more strings to my bow. Thanks to an award from the Enabling Fund which paid for me to learn to drive, I passed my test and that is what originally helped me become a valued full-time member of staff across all the sites. And just this month I have finished training in PAT testing so I am now able to go and do that at the workshop too.

An interesting fact about me: I have played darts for many years and once beat professional player Terry ‘The Bull’ Jenkins (who was once world number 4) at an event in Leominster.

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 – but the society has grown and now offers computer courses, carpentry workshops and volunteering in the garden, among other things.

Anyone who would like more information about The Furniture Scheme should call 01584 874922, email info@furniturescheme.co.uk or visit http://www.furniturescheme.co.uk.
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A day working for a Community Benefit Society

Justin Griffiths

Most of the people you see involved in The Furniture Scheme are volunteers who give up their time to serve lunches, deliver courses, share their expertise, sell items in shops and help those in need in any way they can.

These volunteers are the lifeblood of our Community Benefit Society.

But we also have a small number of employed staff who are essential too.

We want you to know these people and say hello when you see them around the town, so we want you to get to know them.

Meet Justin Griffiths, Community Engagement and Volunteer Support Worker.
Justin is based at Rockspring Community Centre in Sandford Road, Ludlow.

He joined the company in January and is responsible for looking after and attracting new volunteers of all ages as well as ensuring our society engages with the community and facilitating the Building Better Opportunities (BBO) project, funded by the National Lottery and the European Social Fund.

My background: I have volunteered and been employed at charities before, so I know what it is like from both sides. I can bring that experience to the role and relate to the people I work with, recognising them as individuals, requiring individually tailored programs and guidance.

What my job involves: I have spent a lot of time meeting volunteers and I have been involved with running education courses too. I am also responsible for helping people gain employability skills; to assist them in finding employment and increase their self confidence.
I have spent time meeting people from other local organisations and creating links with other charities. I even get the opportunity to feed my love of sports by running children’s activities in Craven Arms during the School Holiday.

Regular questions I get: The most frequent question I am asked is “what does a community engagement officer do?” I will often respond with “how long have you got?” My role is many different things to many different people, it is diverse and challenging, which is the main reason I love it so much.

A typical day for me: There isn’t really a typical day for me as I am often out at various places across South Shropshire attending events or meetings.

One day I can attend a committee meeting for one organisation or another, then whiz across to Shrewsbury to attend a partnership meeting, before delivering a talk to a group of people on an education course.

But a day in the office, here’s what I do:

9am – Arrive at work and the first thing to do is check my emails. I will endeavour to answer emails ASAP, but this is not always possible. I then make sure I am prepared for each event during the day – printing documents or preparing files.

10am – Meeting with a volunteer who is a participant on the BBO project. Normally we will have a conversation about how things are going for them.

11am – Meeting with someone who has been referred to The Furniture Scheme from Job Centre Plus. I normally begin these meetings with assuring the person that we are not looking to hurry them into work, we like to “help and assist” people. I then complete all associated paperwork after the meeting.

12:30pm – Lunchtime will see me devouring a sandwich back at my desk, in front of my laptop – checking emails and preparing for the afternoon.

1pm – Meeting with a representative from another local organisation. Usually, I will give a tour of our facility at Rockspring and explain what we do and how we operate.

2:15pm – Another one to one session with a current volunteer, checking how they are getting on, seeing if there is anything I can do to help them improve their experience. This may lead the conversation onto the enabling fund, which is a pot of money we administer in order to help remove barriers to work – this may involve paying for driving lessons or motorbike tests, anything that is deemed to help the volunteer improve their chances of employment.

3:15pm – Another email check and update volunteer files.

3:45pm – Catch up with other staff. A swift chat with my boss, James, to bring him up to date with any developments.

4:30pm – The last half an hour of the day is normally spent checking any last minute emails and working on any bids for funding, for any courses or projects that I want to implement.

5pm – Pack away and switch off lights as another day ends, on the drive home I am already thinking about tomorrow’s schedule!

Something I am proud of since starting at The Furniture Scheme: I had an idea to do a summer programme of rugby activity sessions and wanted to get a celebrity on board. After a lot of hard work and organising that programme came to fruition this summer. We had more than 60 boys and girls benefit and ex-England rugby player and British Lion Tim Stimpson came along to coach them!

An interesting fact about me: I am undefeated in my hobby of “eating challenges”. I have previously eaten 28 Ferrero Rocher in one sitting, followed by a challenge that saw me consume the world’s spiciest chilli. Most recently I scoffed 40 jaffa cakes in one go!

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 – but the society has grown and now offers computer courses, carpentry workshops and volunteering in the garden, among other things.

Anyone who would like more information about The Furniture Scheme should call 01584 874922, email info@furniturescheme.co.uk or visit http://www.furniturescheme.co.uk.

Volunteers wanted for our bookshops

The Furniture Scheme is looking for new volunteers who are interested in working with books and literature. We run the bustling Charity Bookshop in Craven Arms, and the book shop nestled in the back of Renaissance in Ludlow.

We are grateful for any help that can be provided and can happily pay travel and parking fees should they be necessary and volunteers can do as little as one morning or afternoon a week.

Please contact our volunteer support officer Di Hyde via email at diane@furniturescheme.co.uk or give us a call at Renaissance on 01584877751.

Volunteers at Shropshire charity thanked with BBQ

More than 30 volunteers have been thanked for their dedication and commitment to a charity in South Shropshire.

The Furniture Scheme, based in Ludlow, hosted a barbeque to thank it’s loyal volunteers for the work they do.

The event took place at the charity’s base Rockspring Community Centre, in Sandford Road. It saw volunteers from the centre joined by those who help in the warehouse on Weeping Cross Lane, the carpentry workshop, Renaissance shop in Tower Street, as well as those at Craven Arms Community Centre and The Charity Bookshop in Newington Way, Craven Arms.

James Cooper, operations manager at The Furniture Scheme, said: “It was one of the hottest days of the year and everyone had a great time.

“Our caretaker Rob Gardner kindly cooked all the food with the help of volunteers.

“We wanted to say a big thank you to all of our volunteers and this barbeque was a small token of our thanks.

“The Furniture Scheme’s ongoing success would not be possible without the volunteers. I am amazed by their passion and commitment and so thankful for their ongoing support.”

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.

The charity has grown and now offers computer courses, carpentry workshops and volunteering in the garden, among other things across the six sites.

Anyone who would like more information about The Furniture Scheme should call 01584 874922, email info@furniturescheme.co.uk or visit http://www.furniturescheme.co.uk.

South Shropshire charity makes cry for help as rubbish is dumped on site

A charity in South Shropshire is temporarily suspending all collections of donations as it struggles to cope with rubbish dumped on its doorstep.

The Furniture Scheme, in Ludlow, restores and resells unwanted furniture and offers a free collection service, but in recent months items which should be taken to the tip have instead been dumped by their door.

Staff say the problem has increased ‘out of all proportion’ in the last few months and dedicated volunteers are becoming increasing stressed about keeping on top of it.

Chief executive Jean Jarvis MBE said: “We’ve always been so grateful to the local public for their donations of unwanted household items which we use to help people in need.

“We’ve been struggling to keep up with the increase of uncontrolled deliveries to our premises but we’ve reached breaking point and this is a cry for help.

“A once a month community skip would help, as would fencing and gating our yard because, as a charity, we can’t afford the fencing and gates needed to control the site.

“We’ve contacted the local council to start the process of helping us solve what has become a very real problem to us.”
Jean said the problem started when the civic amenity site in Coder Road, Ludlow, closed in 2014, since then there has been a steady increase in items being left outside either out of hours or when the team are dealing with customers.

“Over the last few month this has increased out of all proportion and people are dumping trailer and van loads of household items that cannot be recycled repaired or reused,” she added.

“Staff and volunteers are now spending a lot of time sorting and processing what they can and driving the rest to the waste centre at Craven Arms.

“There is a huge cost and time implication to this, besides the stressful conditions that staff and volunteers are now under as they try to deal with this alongside their normal roles.”
The charity, which was launched over 20 years ago to benefit some of the most excluded members of the community, is now getting complaints from neighbours because the yard at the back of the warehouse on Weeping Cross Lane is unsightly as staff and volunteers struggle to keep it clear and tidy under the pressure of this increased demand.
As a result, the charity is suspending all collections – other than those already booked in – through July to deal with this problem.

When they restart the free collection service they will only collect items that can be reused or repaired.

Shropshire Councillor Vivienne Parry, for Ludlow South, is fully supporting the charity and will spearhead a campaign to help improve the situation.
She said: “The Furniture Scheme does some wonderful work in Ludlow and the people of this town are at the heart of what they do. It is a shame some people feel they can treat the site as a dumping ground, this greatly hampers the work they do.

“I would call upon these people to use the designated recycling centre in Craven Arms and think before they either donate items or leave items outside the charity. I do appreciate that sometimes people do not have the money or the transport to dispose of it properly and I am going to talk to the council and see if they can put a skip out occasionally and try to get the leader of the Council Peter Nutting to come down to Ludlow and see the problem.

“It is terrible the way Shropshire Council has dumped everything in people’s laps.”

Anyone who would like to volunteer or answer this cry for help, or for more information about The Furniture Scheme, should call 01584 874922, email info@furniturescheme.co.uk or visit http://www.furniturescheme.co.uk.

Charity stalwart honoured by mayor for work in Ludlow

 

Front left to right: James Cooper (Operations Manager), Jean Jarvis MBE (Chief Executive), Terry Round (Volunteer), Diane Hyde (Volunteer Co-ordinator), behind left to right: Graham Lambourn (Carpentry Volunteer Support Worker) and Stefan Laird (Carpentry Workshop Supervisor)

A charity stalwart from south Shropshire has been honoured by the mayor of Ludlow for the work he does in the community.Terry Round, 75, of Ludlow, has been a volunteer at The Furniture Scheme for 12 years and spends most of his time in the charity’s workshop in Friars Walk. He will have stripped, polished and painted hundreds of pieces of furniture over the years – and now he has been presented with a Civic Award to say thank you for his hard work.

But modest Terry said he just does it because he enjoys it.
“I was gobsmacked when I was given the award, I thought it was just a meeting,” he said.
“It was unexpected, I like to stick to the background and just take it as it comes. I don’t see what I do as anything special, I am here because I enjoy it and the people and I get to share lots of skills and teach people them as well.

“It gets me out of the house, I don’t want to just do jigsaws and read books. I am just another volunteer.”

Terry was handed the Civic Award at the Ludlow Mayor Making Ceremony at Ludlow Assembly Rooms on Wednesday night (May 23).
The father of three moved to Ludlow 15 years ago. He has been a decorator all his life, working in the industry from when he left school to when he retired at the age of 66.
In his career he has decorated Bromsgrove Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital – and since joining The Furniture Scheme he has decorated the Renaissance store in Tower Street and the offices at Rockspring Community Centre in Sandford Road, inside and out.

Di Hyde, Volunteer Coordinator at The Furniture Scheme, said Terry was an integral part of the charity.
She said: “We are thrilled that Terry was chosen by the mayor Tim Gill as a recipient of the Civic Award.
“Terry is invaluable to our charity, his contribution is second to none. He spends most of his days in our carpentry workshop and is always willing to give his time to restore and upcycle donated furniture to an extremely high standard. He makes a huge difference not only to our charity and the work we do, but in turn to the people of Ludlow, he is an excellent mentor teaching less able volunteers new skills, creates beautiful pieces of furniture for their homes and this helps to raise much needed funds to support disadvantaged families in the town. He deserves this recognition and celebration.”

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 – but the charity has grown and now offers computer courses, carpentry workshops and volunteering in the garden, among other things.

Anyone who would like more information about The Furniture Scheme should call 01584 874922, email info@furniturescheme.co.uk or visit http://www.furniturescheme.co.uk.

Ends.