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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.

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.

Our fabulous runner has done us proud – and there is still time to donate!

Our fabulous social inclusion manager Gill Pitt has completed the London Marathon!

We are so very proud of her and this amazing achievement. She completed the gruelling circuit around the capital – the hottest on record – in 7 hours and 40 minutes.

Gill seems to have taken the whole thing in her stride (excuse the pun!).
She wasn’t anxious in the run up to the marathon, to the point she was concerned that she wasn’t concerned!

But then again she had trained hard and was very determined to complete it, even if she had to crawl over the finish line.

However, no amount of training (along the streets of Ludlow over the harsh winter we have had) could prepare you for the heat. It reached 24 degrees on the day and there were many warnings issued to runners in advance, telling them to drink plenty of water and advising them not to run in fancy dress.

Gill had no water after mile 8 until about mile 21, but the Great British public were on hand.
Spectators were coming out with jugs, washing up bowls and using discarded empty bottles too, she even had an ice lolly and a cornetto from a spectator!

She said the heat was awful – feeling hotter than 24 in the sun.

Gill had wanted to run the distance in about 6 and a half hours, at the halfway stage she was on track but saw many people flagging and fainting around her.

Friends and family had gone down to support her and she said it was a real boost when she saw them as she tried to maintain her positive attitude.

She said to herself: “This is a privilege, there are many people who can’t do what I am doing or get to experience this because of their own life challenges and my struggle to complete the marathon, the best in the world, is nothing compared to what some people have to deal with in life.”

It’s exactly the same attitude she takes when working at The Furniture Scheme and helping people here. We are so proud of Gill for having completed the marathon – let alone in the tough conditions she faced.

She’s also raised almost £1,000 so far too – but don’t worry, there’s still time to donate. You can do this by visiting her Virgin Money Giving site to donate and then why not check out our stories page to see how money raised for The Furniture Scheme can make a real difference to people’s lives?

           

Gill Pitt to run the London Marathon

Gill running the Shrewsbury half marathon in 2017

To sponsor Gill please click here

Very well done to Gill Pitt on completing the hottest marathon ever, and a big thank you from all the team.
Also a big thank you to everyone who sponsored Gill and raised over £1,500 which will go to the charitable work of the Furniture Scheme.

Running 26.2 miles around the capital is a pretty gruelling challenge for anyone to take on, especially someone who has only been running for two years.

But at The Furniture Scheme, we love a challenge and our Social Inclusion Manager Gill Pitt is taking it to the extreme by competing in this year’s London Marathon.

Set to take place on April 22nd, the world-famous run has been finished by the best of the best from Mo Farah to Paula Radcliffe.

Gill is not hoping to beat the elite athletes but crossing that finish line will be a massive achievement, especially given that she had never run before 2015.

Gill aims to raise £3,000 for our charity – and she never thought she’d be doing a running challenge to help our cause.

She went for one short jog in 2015 but only seriously took up running as a hobby in 2016 in a bid to lose weight, become fit and make friends.

But she’s now firmly been bitten by the running bug.

The self-confessed former couch potato has since completed four half marathons, more than 50 parkruns (weekly 5k timed runs) and a fair few 10ks too.

She’s made friends and is now fit and healthy.

Despite picking up a hamstring injury late last year, she’s now back to her full training regime and will be taking part in the Wrexham Running Festival’s 20 miler in March as a warm up for the main event.

All of the money Gill raises will be used to help disadvantaged families across South Shropshire so thank you in advance from her, us and the families themselves for all of the donations.

Click here for the Virgin Money Giving page where you can donate to the cause and find out more information about Gill’s training.

And then why not check out our ‘about’ page for more information on how we’ll use the funds Gill raises for The Furniture Scheme.

Self service machines are coming to Craven Arms Library as the future is secured for another three years

We have very exciting news at CasCA.
We have recently agreed with Shropshire Council that we will continue to house the library there for another three years.
And Shropshire Council has said the long awaited self service machines will be installed this year!

We are delighted!
When we took on the library four years ago it was to save it from closing down and stop the people of Craven Arms losing a vital resource.
It was originally just for three years too, but having extended it for a further year in 2017, the council have now said the library will remain at CasCA in Newington Way until 2021.

The staff employed by The Furniture Scheme, the charity which operates the building, have been librarians for the four years that the library has been in CasCA and carried it out brilliantly, especially as that wasn’t supposed to happen. We really appreciate that they have risen to the challenge, so well done team CasCA!

Whilst we are very happy to help anyone who needs assistance and answer any questions that we are able to, we will also be delighted to show customers how to use the self service machine.

You see these at other libraries across Shropshire, ones that are 24 hours but don’t have staff all the time. They are simple to use machines and mean people can take a book out of the library when our staff may be busy helping with computer sessions, booking people on to sports activities or a variety of other roles that they carry out in our busy centre.

Volunteers needed to help people get on their bike

Wow our bike plan was a huge success!
Back in August, we started selling refurbished bikes after we were kindly donated a large amount of cycling equipment.
All the bikes we put together sold out within a month, which is great for us and fantastic for all those people who are now riding a high-spec bike bought for great value.

More volunteers needed

But now we want to do it again and we’re appealing for more volunteers of all ages to help us turn even more parts into bikes.
Thanks to our partners Reviive and Ludlow’s Epic Cycles, we still have plenty of donated parts.
Members of the local community will be trained in how to construct or repair a bike, which is part of our charity’s commitment to helping local people gain self-esteem.
We love seeing people learn new skills in furniture restoration and so we were thrilled to be able to offer something new for people to learn how to repair and restore bikes.
We wanted those who can’t afford to buy a new bike to be able to access the sport – or get their own transport – at affordable prices. Cycling is such a positive activity as it keeps people fit and gives them access to so much more, especially if they are without a car.

Help

If you can help repair and restore bikes for The Furniture Scheme, please get in touch.
We have been running for 22 years, recycling or repairing donated furniture and household goods before passing them onto those in need or selling them to raise much needed funds at one of their shops.
The bikes are restored at the Warehouse on Weeping Cross Lane, Ludlow.
As well as this we run the shop Renaissance on Tower Street, Ludlow, and the Charity Bookshop as well as CasCA in Craven Arms.

For more information or to volunteer for our bike restoration project, visit the website www.furniturescheme.co.uk, call 01584 874922 or email james@furniturescheme.co.uk.

Don’t worry about the For Sale sign…. we’re not going anywhere!

A lot of people have come to us asking if we’re shutting down – the answer is definitely no!

A ‘For Sale’ sign has appeared outside our shop Renaissance in Tower Street, Ludlow, and it looks like Halls are selling us off, but that’s not the case at all.

Our landlord Maurice Bellwood has decided to sell the building but we are tenants here and the charity shop is unaffected.

Our tenancy won’t be affected by the sale of the building, in fact it’s one of the conditions for whoever buys it.

We asked Mr Bellwood to let you know himself and here’s what he said:

“I am selling the shop only, and the Furniture Scheme’s tenancy is secure.”

So please be assured, the Renaissance store is a key part of The Furniture Scheme’s work and helps raise vital funds to support local people in crisis or in need.

It’s a great place to sell restored furniture and we are very grateful for all our loyal customers who support us.

We are not shutting and will continue to provide all the help we currently do to as many people as we can in Ludlow and the surrounding areas.

In fact, if you’re interested in what we do – why not volunteer? Just pop in and find out more or contact us, call 01584 874922 or email info@furniturescheme.co.uk.

Or if you’re interested in buying the building and becoming our landlord contact Rebecca Welch at Halls Commercial on rebeccaw@hallsgb.com or call 01743 450715.

Library worker starts yoga business thanks to funding

Lec taking at yoga class at CasCA

A longstanding member of staff at Craven Arms Sport and Community Centre (CASCA) is moving on – partly thanks to training she received while working here.

Alexis Seaborne, 35, of Craven Arms, started at CASCA when the library moved here from the Discovery Centre three years ago.
Before that she spent six years at the library’s former home.

She has now completed her last day with us as she moves on to be the library manager at Church Stretton Library and advance her yoga business.

Alexis has gained qualifications to teach yoga thanks to funding by Sports England and the Furniture Scheme’s Enabling Fund.

“I have always been into fitness and doing pilates and yoga at home, so it was a personal interest,” she said.

“I wanted to move forward and get training and this option came up – I was delighted to get funding from Sports England and because this is something I could offer in the community centre too, The Furniture Scheme was also able to help financially.

“I needed to make sure it was available to all people and those less able in order to qualify for the funding from the charity, it is something I was happy to do.”

Alexis has been offering two evening sessions of yoga each week and holds a class especially for people with MS too.

She will soon be running lessons for students at Westhope College and one day hopes to develop a yoga training business.

She said: “At the moment I am gaining experience which is great.

“I wouldn’t have been able to afford the training without the grant and wouldn’t have had time to do the qualification without the time I was given too, it would have just stayed a hobby.

“Being allowed to do some homework while at work was great, the Furniture Scheme has been very supportive. I have lots to be thankful for, taking me on when the library closed at the Discovery Centre, giving me the option to progress personally and listening to me when I spoke about my desire for more training.

“It is happening quicker than I thought, I am having to turn people down as I can’t take on everything.”

Alexis said her message to others would be don’t be afraid to ask for opportunities, volunteers and employees can benefit a lot from the Furniture Scheme and everything it offers.

And that is exactly the same message from Jean Jarvis, chief executive of the Furniture Scheme.

She said: “We are delighted to have been able to help Alexis in this way.
“She worked very hard here and this is just the sort of thing the Enabling Scheme is designed for, enabling people to do what they want to in their career or get them more prepared for work.

“It can also be used for situations such as when someone cannot afford childcare while they do a course or people who need a driver’s license for a job – we can fund driving lessons.

“This is one of a number of things we can do for people in the community – you don’t have to be employed here.

“We also offer a starter pack for people who are moving into a new home and don’t have anything and our warehouse full of furniture in Weeping Cross Lane, Ludlow, also offers 25per cent off for people in receipt of certain benefits.

“We are glad to be able to help so many people in south Shropshire.”

For more information about what we can do to help you take a look around this website or call 01584 874922.

Holiday scheme has a jam-packed schedule

Wondering what to do during the summer holidays? Well, we can help by telling you about a jam-packed schedule of events that have been lined up for Craven Arms, Church Stretton and Ludlow.

There will be plenty going on at these venues starting at the end of this month and running through August.

Craven Arms Community Centre (CasCa) events are being funded or part funded by money raised through the amazing efforts of Craig Nicholson and his five marathons in five days.
All events are free to young people living in Craven Arms and/or with a 67 phone code.
Other children can attend but will be charged £3. First priority will be given to children living in Craven Arms.

What’ happening:
Tuesday, August 1, 15, 22 and 29 – Tennis coaching with Lucy Taylor:
10am-11am – under 8s – maximum limit 10 children.
11am-noon – 8 to 10-year-olds – maximum limit 12 children.
1pm-2pm – beginners over 10 years.
2pm-3pm – improvers any age.

Thursday August 3, 10, 17 and 24 – Craft workshops
Held between 10.30am and 12.30pm, run by Scrappies and Lesley Mcnight in Church Stretton.
Thursday, August 3 – activities will focus on bug hotels
Thursday, August 10 – it’s all about kites and windsocks, with the chance to make and fly your own kite.
Thursday, August 17 – Robo Wars event and the chance to make your own robot.
Thursday, August 24 – Puppet making.
The workshops are aimed at children aged 7+ and the maximum number for each workshop is 10 to 12.

Monday, August 7 – Play Day, featuring the climbing wall.

Saturday, August 12 – Storytime and crafts at the Charity Bookshop
5 Drovers House – next to Lunts Pharmacy – 11am, noon and 1pm.
Booking for this is essential as there are only nine places available for youngsters up to eight years of age.
Each session lasts 40 minutes.
A terrific story will be read first of all and then the children get to try their hand at crafts.
Books and reading area are available for older children.
Please book your place at CasCa by telephoning 01588 672847.

Wednesday, August 23 – Manor Adventure.
There are 12 places available for this event aimed at children between 9 and 13 and involves high ropes and caving.

Thursday, August 31 – Go Kart Party.

For more information about CasCa events, contact 01588 672847, or email casca@furniturescheme.co.uk
For more about events at Scrappies, contact 01694 328508, email info@scrappies.org

 

Meanwhile, over at Rockspring, Ludlow there are a number of activities planned to keep youngsters occupied over the summer holidays.

What’s happening:
Rockspring, in Sandford Road, has linked up with the town’s Assembly Rooms to offer special film and workshop deals.
Anyone booking at Rockspring can get both the film and workshop for £3 and parents go free.
Tuesday, July 25 – Over and Out workshop runs between 11am and 1pm and will be followed by the film screening of Cats and Dogs (U) at 2pm.
Tuesday, August 1 – Who’s Around the Corner? From 11am to 1pm and the film from 2pm will be Basil the Great Mouse Detective (U).
Tuesday, August 15 – Build a Beast from 11am to 1pm and Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit will be shown from 2pm.
Tuesday, August 22 – Be the Detective workshop, 11am to 1pm, with Zootropolis (PG) screening at 2pm.
Tuesday, August 29 – Live Dinosaur Discovery Day, 11am to 1pm and Live Dinosaur Detectives screened at 2pm.

Tuesday 25th July – Children’s Craft Afternoon
In a link up with Youth Partnership there will be craft events at the Roman Catholic Church Community Hall in Henley Road, Ludlow, between 1pm and 3pm.
This is for children of all ages, but those under 8 must be accompanied by an adult. Admission is 50p per child and activities will include making a pinecone animal, painting, monster bookmarks, sugarcraft and fingerprinting with the police, tile decorating and biscuit decoration.
Biscuits and drinks will be free to youngsters. There will also be a child-friendly tombola to raise funds for this year’s community fireworks display in October.

Tuesday, August 29 – Sports on Gallows Bank
In partnership with Shrewsbury Town in the Community, this is aimed at children aged between four and 14.
Registration takes place at 12.30pm at the Rockspring Community Centre and will finish at 3pm.
All children must be registered by an adult at the start and signed out by an adult at the end of the session.
This free event will conclude with a burger or hotdog.

For more information on any of these events, telephone the Rockspring on 01584 874922.

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