The Loop @ Grahame Park
Re-use organisation of the Year nomination
About the charity:
The Loop @ Grahame Park is one of five pilot re-use hubs set up as part of Repurpose, an EU LIFE+ programme, led by Groundwork London. The project has succeeded in bringing the social benefits of re-use to the heart of one of the most disadvantaged housing estates in London.
It is situated in a large social housing estate in Barnet, North London, in an old betting shop on the main shopping concourse. The space has been transformed into a workshop, retail and storage space from which it runs an estate-wide collection service of unwanted household items (both directly from households and from fly-tipping sites). Then items are repaired if needed and sold at very low prices back to residents on the estate. The whole process is used as a training and volunteering opportunity for local residents, which is complemented by a dedicated events and training programme.
The Loop is run by a small team (one full-time and four part-time staff) who are on-site four days a week, supported by 14 regular volunteers. Three of the staff are estate residents and former volunteers who had been unemployed for significant lengths of time.
What the charity achieved in 2016/2017:
The Loop opened just 12 months ago. From the start it became a central hub on the estate; attracting regular customers, volunteers and people who drop in, on whom the project is having a considerable personal impact.
Many volunteers had been out of work for some time, and suffer from physical and/or mental health difficulties which have resulted in them feeling isolated and cut off. These residents have learned new skills, made new friends, and developed the confidence to engage with others – and in some cases take the first steps back into employment. Many tell us the project has changed their lives, helping them overcome challenges and providing a new social network. The fact that not a single volunteer has left is testament to its importance in their lives.
The main re-use service has been incredibly successful, selling over 1,250 items at a low cost to residents, many of whom would struggle to afford new furniture, from a location that is totally accessible. Over 1,700 items have been collected from households, businesses and fly-tipping, all on a hand trolley making re-use really easy for residents. A programme of community engagement has engaged approximately 800 residents.
Why this matters:
This project is working with a very hard to reach group in a challenging location at a very testing time. The estate is not only one of the most deprived in London, it is also being completely gutted and regenerated, with many residents being rehoused off-site and new private homes being added. As a result, many community amenities and shops have closed and boarded up units are prevalent.
When we set up The Loop many residents were excited that something new was happening for them. It creates opportunities for residents to interact and is playing an important role in providing stability and social cohesion during a turbulent time. Residents really appreciate its full range of impacts: reducing waste, providing furniture; creating employment and volunteering opportunities, and helping local people to develop new skills.
“Whenever I have mentioned the Loop to other people they have sung its praises, so many people have been helped and have helped others by donating furniture. People love this place and have never seen another place like it. I’m really grateful it’s here as it’s the only place that is genuinely there to help the local community and people in need.” Customer, Grahame Park estate.
To learn more about the charity, visit their website: https://www.groundwork.org.uk/Sites/repurpose/pages/discover-grahame-park
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!