What are the main objectives of your organisation?
FRP provides safe, clean affordable, reuse furniture and tested electrical items to low income households. We deliver an education and training programme for 16-18 year olds who are not in employment, education or training (NEET). Our objective is to be the Charity of Choice for re-use goods in Gloucestershire, maximising our resource for the benefit of the community, being an outstanding training provider inspiring people to a better future and creating a better community.
What is unique about your organisation?
As well as providing low cost re-use furniture to the disadvantaged community, we also have a training programme for 16-18 year olds works with up to 60 young people a year who are not in employment, education or training. On our training programme young people work towards recognised qualifications and gain practical work experience throughout our whole organisation. Trainees stay on the programme for around six months to a year with the aim of seeing them progress on to college, go into apprenticeships or full-time employment and all leave is us with improved confidence and self esteem.
Recently added to our work is a loan service for electric riser recliner chairs, specifically aimed at those in later stages of life or leaving hospital, allowing them to spend time in a more familiar environment.
What were the biggest challenges you had to face?
In the Gloucestershire Floods of July 2007 our electrical repair unit was one of the many properties and businesses caught up in the devastation. This was at a time when our service was needed the most from those who had lost possessions in the floods. Many donations were being offered to local authorities, without the resources and knowledge on how to manage the offers. We were honoured to be asked to co-ordinate the work of volunteers and the donations being offered. A dedicated help line and email contact was et up in our offices. Members of the Furniture Reuse Network provided many van loads of furniture to FRP in support of our own operation and flood relief effort. It was not until January 2009 18 months after the floods that the electrical unit was finally re-homed in a new location in Gloucester.
What are your biggest achievements to date?
In 2012 we won a Big Society Award. The Big Society Awards recognise outstanding individuals and organisations whose innovative and dedicated work improve lives and strengthens communities. We were the first recipients of the award within the field of furniture re-use. To collect our award we were invited to an award ceremony for all winners across the UK, this was followed by an evening reception at No. 10 Downing Street, where we met with the Prime Minister. It was a great honour not only to be recognised for our work within the community, but to be in such exalted company as other organisations up and down the country that contribute so much to our society.
How do you think you have contributed to the development of the sector?
We have always been a forward thinking and ambitious organisation and this was recognised in 2005 when we received Beacon Status. This recognition is only accorded to the top 10% of businesses operating in the South West. We were one of the few Social Enterprises/Charitable Organisations included in this group of businesses.
FRP has over the years hosted visits from organisations in the UK and further afield as well as dealing with enquiries from Australia and USA. We hope that our knowledge and experience has assisted in the development of the sector to ensure as many opportunities as possible as taken to improve the lives of our community by providing a new life for many unwanted furniture and electrical items.
We are an ever changing organisation that adapts to meet our customer needs. We have extended our opening hours opening, delivery and collection service to a Saturday to cater for those who work during the week.
We have also recently introduced a new service the hire of rise and recliner chairs after we were donated the chairs when the former service provider ceased the provision of this service.
What are your future goals?
We are looking in to the possibility of opening another shop in Gloucestershire to cater for those who are perhaps not as mobile and may have difficulty reaching our shops in Cheltenham and Gloucester. Our aim is to reach as many people as we can in need in Gloucestershire so that no-one has to go without basic items of furniture many of us take for granted such as a bed to sleep in.
How has the FRN helped your organisation?
The ability to communicate with other organisations using the medium of the FRN has been very useful. We have utilised the knowledge base of both bulky basic and electrical reuse to help develop our systems.