We initially pioneered and delivered traditional skills training, volunteer and employment opportunities for those on the margins of society, in recovery and long-term unemployed in 1991.
Metal, wood, mechanical engineering and upholstery workshops were developed and initiated, evolving into recycling, IT, retail, haulage and soft skills training.
From this initiative, the project established triple bottom-line enterprises designed to be self-financing through the collection, refurbishment, resale or redistribution of unwanted household furnishings, light industrial equipment, and industrial scale wood recycling.
Those in hardship could receive items free. Entire homes (initially provided unfurnished by the local authority were furnished, while other pieces were retailed, generating income through a network of high street shops we founded. These shops also created employment for the learning disabled and re-entry training for ex-offenders.
As the project developed it attracted growing interest:
“Ways have to be found to help rehabilitate people who have fallen out of society…this amazing work helps address so many of the issues that the poor in society are confronted with.” Rt Hon John Gummer MP – Environment Secretary May 1994
As the network of retail shops grew, they financed themselves and a Community Support Centre. These were always located either within or in an additional shop space next door and created a ‘soft’ entry off the high street for the individual to find psychosocial support.
Over 3,000 people each year still receive life-changing support here. For many it makes the vital difference to their future.
An audit by a local authority on the effectiveness and sustainability of the enterprises demonstrated for every £1, saw £6.20 of value realised through our community services.