What are the main objectives of your organisation?
1) to provide all sorts of household items to people in need, at the cheapest prices we can,
2) to provide volunteering, job & training opportunities for people (we are largely volunteer-run), and
3) to reuse and recycle as much of the material we receive as we possibly can; we make extra efforts to ensure that our operation is environmentally friendly.
What is unique about your organisation?
We play a fairly large part in the Greater Manchester network of VCS 3Rs organisations (GM3Rs), as well as participating in the Cheshire Furniture Reuse Forum, and are very much of our community; Wesley is almost a cultural institution. We inspire great loyalty and dedication from our staff – and from many service users. Often operating in adverse circumstances, for nearly 20 years Wesley has strived to deliver its service whilst endeavouring to use enterprise, initiative and determination to improve that service and try new things so that we can both sustain and improve our operation.
What were the biggest challenges you had to face?
European funding for a partnership project (pilot Bulky Waste collection, Manchester), which resulted in vast amounts of paperwork and working capital loan applications. Capacity building over nearly ten years so that we can be a medium-sized FRO that is not grant-dependent. And the Next Big Step – which should guarantee the self-sustainability of core operations into perpetuity.
What are your biggest achievements to date?
Quiet achievements: having a huge positive impact on the lives of some of our customers and volunteers. Loud achievements: creating more paid jobs (initially grant-funded), and increasing our sales and tonnage figures. And doing off-the-wall things like our arts project with Manchester Metropolitan University.
How do you think you have contributed to the development of the sector?
By making sure we play an active role – and one which has a [still] fiercely independent voice!
What are your future goals?
To improve our service and, especially, conditions for both customers and staff; taking steps to ensure our continued growth and self-sustainability.
How has the FRN helped your organisation?
As a fantastic resource (both from officers/the organisation itself and the membership); information and direct assistance; campaigning work and increasing the profile of the sector as a whole./p>