What are the main objectives of your organisation?
Our main aims are the relief of poverty, through the practical provision of good quality used furniture and electrical appliances, regardless of circumstances or lifestyle and to divert items that might otherwise end up in landfill. We also provide volunteering opportunities for all ages, providing supported placements for long term unemployed and those disadvantaged in the employment market place.
What is unique about your organisation?
We provide vouchers at our own cost to a number of local agencies that refer needy people to us, for example Social Services, CAB, council Housing Needs departments, Women’s Aid, Foyer, local Hospital Trusts, local Housing Associations. These can be exchanged for essential items of furniture, allowing clients to shop with a sense of dignity.
What were the biggest challenges you had to face?
Growing from a small project with 4 staff into the organisation we are now, with 19 staff, coping with between 25 - 40% growth year on year.
What are your biggest achievements to date?
Moving from a local volunteer based charity giving items of furniture away free, into a Social Enterprise top 100 listed business, limited company and registered charity, running as a self sustaining organisation and yet still giving away furniture to needy families and diverting over 1000 tonnes from landfill.
How do you think you have contributed to the development of the sector?
We have successfully developed a business model that has allows us to grow and be self sustaining, such that we have become a “centre of excellence” in our area with other groups visiting us. We are also able to share our experiences and help new groups to adopt best practise and become viable quickly.
What are your future goals?
We are planning to open in two new locations this year and in so doing to develop a franchise / partnership so that we can help other groups start similar ventures. We would also like to be able to offer OCN based training to our volunteers and staff.
How has the FRN helped your organisation?
FRN Members have been fantastic, helping us with everything from advice and sharing policies to working in partnership with us, which has helped us grow. Projects in the sector are always willing to help each other, sharing best practise, and the conferences and support from FRN nationally provide access to specialist expertise, knowledge and systems which are an invaluable resource to younger projects like ourselves.