SOCIAL ENTERPRISE NEWS
We’re delighted to be joined for our latest spotlight by The Furniture Project (Stranraer), a multi-award winning social enterprise that exists to alleviate poverty in South West Scotland through their reuse services to communities across Wigtownshire. The Community Reuse Shop, which receives and collects donations of household and office goods from members of the community, are reused and recycled to provide affordable homeware and goods to the wider community. We chatted to Project Manager, Paul Smith, to find out more about what they do, other projects, plans for the year and tips for other social enterprises.
What’s your social and/or environmental mission?
We are the first of our kind in Scotland. At the Furniture Project we strive to be a green role model in our environment-related development work, the concept attracts a broad target group, and spreads knowledge about sustainability and circular economy.
How do you do it? (client group, practical daily work, customers etc)
We are a vehicle for social change and work supporting vulnerable people, providing skills, qualifications and jobs for young people, care leavers, people with disabilities, mental health issues, low education attainment, homelessness, carers, a criminal record and low aspirations, teaching them life skills and employability skills offering personalised support for those who are hidden or furthest away from the labour market to enable them to make good sustained progress into employment, education or training.
What’s your personal motivation for being a social entrepreneur?
Our motivation for being a social entrepreneur is the important contribution that we are having at a social, cultural and environmental level, creating innovative ways to respond to certain economic and social needs, by creating employment, building skills and confidence in people and providing affordable homeware whilst contributing to the circular economy.
What are your current projects?
Our current projects include, Free School Uniform which includes bags, stationery and a back to school haircut, Christmas Hampers, The Pink Frog which is an employability programme, NU4U is an online sales platform, Rhins Active which is a bicycle repair scheme taking bikes from the waste stream and repairing them to go back into the community, Repair at Your Service a project where young people complete minor tasks in elderly people’s home to learn skills and provide social interaction.
What exciting things do you have coming up?
We are seeking to undertake a programme of development that will see the premises physically expand its footprint and use of the building in order to increase the volume of its social, economic and environmental projects over the next 10 to 20 years. This is in line with the greater volume of reusable products available to us from the wider community and household waste recycling centres.
Who do you want to work with more?
We would like to work with more young people within our employability programmes to help young people facing barriers to work find work. Long term, we want to help young people find sustainable opportunities, and reach more young people who need our help. We provide tailored, expert coaching for people facing complex social barriers (housing, mental health, convictions), support to secure high-quality work placements, with good progression and opportunity and pre-employability skills training, both online and in person, using group work to provide peer support.
What’s your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge we face is ensuring our services and activities are provided as a response to identified local needs, supporting the development and growth of our community.
What top tips would you give to other social enterprises?
The most important thing for us is ensuring our items are affordable, the prevention of profiteering means the goods we sell do alleviate the effects of poverty for our community. Getting the product and the price right is key to our success.
For more information about The Furniture Project (Stranraer), please visit their website and make sure to follow them on Facebook to keep updated with their work.
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