A new shop in the heart of St Helens is rescuing unwanted furniture from the scrap heap while providing practical skills for job-seeking residents.
The ReStore St Helens shop is the brainchild of Changing Communities - a Community Interest Company established by local charity The Hope Centre - and sees unwanted household furniture repaired and re-used instead of being thrown away.
The new shop on Peckers Hill Road in Sutton houses an on-site workshop where volunteers repair, restore and upcycle donated furniture – anything from dining tables, chairs and bookcases, to drawers, desks, wardrobes and cupboards.
Any waste wood or by-product is used to create new items such as garden planters, benches and ornaments. All items are sold in the shop with any profits being ploughed back into the venture.
The ReStore shop was officially opened by local MP Marie Rimmer OBE, Director at The Hope Centre Angela Metcalfe, and Carl Beer, the Chief Executive of Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority who have provided £8,000 towards the project as part of their Community Fund for waste prevention, re-use and recycling initiatives.
Marie Rimmer OBE said: “Sutton Village is one of the oldest communities in the borough and it’s great to see ReStore St Helens providing a valuable service in this area. ReStore offers the opportunity to upcycle furniture items, which may have gone to landfill, whilst at the same time offering skills and work experience to local people.
“This is yet another example of the valuable service The Hope Centre provides in supporting the local community and I know this project will go from strength to strength.”
Carl Beer congratulated everyone involved in the scheme and hoped to see more similar initiatives in the future:
“I’d love to see more of this type of shop throughout the whole of Merseyside where usable furniture doesn’t even make it into the waste stream but instead back into people’s homes<" he said.
"This is such a great scheme and I’d like to give everyone here a huge round of applause for their efforts in getting the shop up and running.”
By the end of the project it is hoped that well over a tonne of furniture will have been repaired and upcycled. If successful ReStore will look to develop the re-use and upcycling of a wider range of furniture such as sofas and white goods.
The Project Manager at ReStore Julie Waring said: “St Helens has a number of well-established charity and commercial second hand furniture shops, proving there is a strong market for second hand furniture.
"However, these organisations don’t tend to repair or upcycle household furniture. ReStore will take unwanted furniture that would otherwise become waste. We will add life and value to these items, preventing them from entering the waste stream and avoiding new items being purchased.
“We’re basically creating something new and desirable from something old and unwanted.”
ReStore is primarily volunteer run and as well as refurbishing unwanted furniture is also providing opportunities for long-term unemployed individuals with mild/moderate mental wellbeing issues. Using The Hope Centre’s extensive volunteer network participants are being provided with opportunities to learn DIY and retail skills, giving practical experience of working routines to help gain employment.
ReStore will directly engage with at least 24 people including 10 volunteers, four people seeking work and 10 local residents.
Angela Metcalfe, Director at The Hope Centre, said: “It’s wonderful that so much furniture is being saved, but just as importantly by building links with the local community we are giving people valuable experience that they can take to the job market.
"Volunteering combats loneliness and reduces social isolation. As participants gain new skills their confidence should increase and hopefully they’ll feel they can take control of their situation.”