Blog – A day in the life of a van driver

We love to celebrate our volunteers and staff at the Furniture Scheme – this month we would like to introduce you to a new employee, Charlotte!

Charlotte Bayliss started working for The Furniture Scheme at the end of November as a van driver.

She is committed to picking up donations for our workshop or warehouse and delivering purchased items of furniture to the lucky recipient.

Charlotte, who works part time and combines her job here with training to be a teaching assistant, is in fact the first female van driver that The Furniture Scheme has had.

So, get to know Charlotte…

My background: I passed my driving test at 17 and my dad has a removal and antiques business so I have worked for him and helped out where I can. When I saw this job it was perfect for me to do alongside my training and I love the ethos of The Furniture Scheme, I like to think I am making a difference.

What my job involves: Essentially, I drive around Ludlow picking up and dropping off furniture! I get to meet a lot of different people, see all sorts of items and sometimes it’s amazing to see what has been done to something, the volunteers in the workshop can work wonders. I love being out and about and love the driving.

Regular questions I get: “Are you sure you can lift that?” is one I get a lot. I may be just 20 years old, female and quite small, but I am stronger than I look. I can give the men a run for their money sometimes too.

A typical day for me: It always depends how many bookings we have and where I am off to as to how  the day goes, but let’s just say I haven’t had a quiet day yet!

8am – Arrive at the warehouse and load the van with the deliveries that have been arranged for that day, with the help of the volunteers there. They will have all the paperwork ready and I will see where abouts I am going and look through the best route.

9.30am – Set off on the first delivery of the day.

10am – The person I deliver to may need some help to move the furniture into place so I will always help as much as I can. Then on to the next.

1pm – By the afternoon I have usually completed deliveries so I stop for a quick break before I start to do collections. With an empty van, I am then able to pick up items people want to donate to The Furniture Scheme, but they are unable to bring them to the warehouse or workshop.

2:15pm – Collect all sorts of interesting items in a variety of states of repair from homes and sometimes businesses across Ludlow. Again, I have to think of the best route but, not only that, which items I am picking up and how they need to be put in the van – I want to make sure there is room for everything, sometimes it’s a little like a game of tetris!

4pm – Drop all the collected furniture off at the warehouse, where they will decide which items will be sold there and which will be moved to the workshop to be renovated (a job for the van driver tomorrow!). I sometimes do a tip run at the end of the day or sort he warehouse out a bit before I clock off.

Something I am proud of since starting at The Furniture Scheme: I am really proud of getting the hang of driving these vans quickly.

An interesting fact about me: I am an identical twin.

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.

Ends.

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.
Ends.

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.