Community Furniture Store (Selby)
Re-use organisation of the Year nomination
About the charity:
A furniture re-use store was established in Selby by the York Community Furniture Store in 2004 and registered as a separate charity and company in 2006, but with the same trustees and senior staff.
A move to new premises in 2010 included space to install cabins to house workshops to repair furniture. By both increasing re-use of damaged or worn items and providing work experience, the workshops developed the Store’s core charitable activities. The Store now handles each year a total of over 3,500 items weighing about 95 tonnes.
With grant funding from various local charities and some statutory agencies, the workshop project grew gradually and now has three cabins, including space for dusty woodwork, painting and refinishing, a small training room and Workshop Supervisor’s office. Work projects now include creating shabby chic items, making new items like garden furniture from reclaimed materials and recently, repairing bikes. Some participants help in the warehouse, with van collections/deliveries and Community Repaint. Help is also given with job searches and preparing for interviews. Since the workshops opened, from November 2011 to March 2017, over 360 unemployed people and other volunteers have enjoyed work experience at the Store, achieving a massive 40,000 hours activity.
What the charity achieved in 2016/2017:
Recent placements are mostly for 120 hours over 4 weeks. As well as practical work, participants complete short courses in Manual Handling, Disability Awareness and Equality & Diversity (previously Level 1 or 2 NVQs). Certificates for these plus a record of achievement while at the Store provide each participant with a “portfolio” at the end of their placement. Currently a very impressive 50-60% of participants are finding paid work or undertaking formal training after spending time at the Store.
The compulsory work placement schemes, which brought some of the most challenging individuals to the workshops ended in March 2016. Despite this, during 2016-17, the project continued to work with over 100 people, including many with multiple barriers to work and very negative initial attitudes.
The continuing success has involved building new stronger links with local agencies and the Workshop Supervisor now attends information sessions at local Job Centres to promote the project. Natalie Liddell of Selby Job Centre confirmed that the Store provides the most local work experience placements. She commented: “It is our most popular programme; we would be lost without it” and confirmed that it has contributed to an observable reduction in the 18-24 year old unemployment rate.
Why this matters:
Selby Town has high levels of poverty within an otherwise fairly affluent large rural district. For the first time in many years, Selby does not have the highest % of unemployed 18-24 year olds in North Yorkshire, with many struggling to achieve first jobs. In the year ending February 2017, total people claiming unemployment benefits in Selby dropped by 29% from 661 to 467 (NYCC Data). Of the 467 claimants, only 45 people were aged 18-24, (9.7% of all claimants); however, a year ago, there were 130 unemployed people (19.7% of claimants) in this age group. A reduction of 85 unemployed people aged 18-24 is a massive 65% drop in the year.
The workshop project at the Store is making a huge difference to people’s lives!
A long-term unemployed 22 year old called W came with the attitude of “I’m unemployable; I don’t need or want to be here.” The Workshop Supervisor made him a leader in charge of a sanding team. After 2 weeks in this role, W asked if he could work on interview techniques for his first ever interview the following week. W was offered an apprenticeship at a local company!
To learn more about the charity, visit their website: http://communityfurniturestore.co.uk/wordpress/?page_id=9
To vote, go back to the awards page (with the logos of each charity) and scroll down to the bottom of the page and select the charity you think deserves this award and click Vote!