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Top Of The Tree

TREE from Essex led the way at the 2009 national Furniture Reuse Network awards. Held at its annual conference in Cheshire last week the Presidents awards entered their second year in style..
Standing out from 320 voluntary sector organisations in the Furniture Reuse Network was Tendring Reuse and Employment Enterprise (TREE) of Essex in recognition of their services to the reuse sector and impressive partnership arrangements with business and local government.

Spokesperson for the judges, FRN President Richard Featherstone, said:
“TREE have been an inspiration to other projects all year.” Over the last year TREE had saved a project in Chelmsford from closure, opened new facilities for testing and repairing fridges, developed a range of partnerships with local private companies, assisted other local charities in developing systems for reusing electrical items and assisted an increased number of people in Essex on low incomes through the provision of low cost furniture and white goods.

TREE manager Mark Penn was stunned they had been chosen by the judges but said “all the staff and volunteers have made it possible for me to give time to supporting our network colleagues”.

Another award category, Rising Star was given to the PREEN project of Bedfordshire, a newcomer to the furniture reuse sector. PREEN Manager Kathy Lewis was noted by the judges for her ability to make the organisation self-sustaining and provide a very supportive environment for volunteers to learn life skills.

Award judges said “This project has got off the ground by being self-propelled. Everyone has been impressed by the energy and commitment of the staff and the volunteers to make furniture reuse a sustainable social enterprise.”

A third award was dedicated as an individual prize for the Seasoned Campaigner. The furniture reuse sector has been coordinated as a network for 19 years. “During this time”, said Richard, “There have been some dedicated workers who have given a long and substantial service to furniture reuse; they have gained an expertise which they happily pass on to colleagues in the network.

The award for Seasoned Campaigner, an outstanding individual that the sector most admires for their thinking and standards of service was Kelvin Hughes of the Newbury Furniture Project. The Newbury Project is renowned for putting its volunteers at the forefront of its operation as well as providing support to projects in Hampshire.

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