Furniture Bank is a fresh sort of organisation. We are not a charity or a business but instead we are a social enterprise.
Social enterprises have the heart of a charity with a body of a business and this can sometimes cause confusion about what and how we do things. Here in a nut shell is how it works.
Furniture Bank is called Furniture Bank because it mimics the way Foodbanks work. In the past 3 years we have delivered over £100,000 worth of subsidised furniture to local families and people in crisis and on low income. We make this happen through an online shop that only those who are referred to our service can choose and order the items from. This furniture is separate from our public furniture shop and the families pay a very low cost for these items.
Furniture Bank is a social enterprise because it is primarily funded through the running of a furniture business alongside its charitable referral process. This is our shop in Brimscombe. We sell the more quirky items of furniture that our families do not request and any excess stock we have. This money is used to run our operation. This also allows us to provide a gift in kind to the Stroud Foodbank and share warehousing with them.
As a social enterprise, we don’t use volunteers (apart from on very rare special occasions). We employ and train up local people to run the project. This includes a number of young people who needed extra help getting into work. People who left school early, people who have been in trouble with the police or people who have mental health problems. This is fairly unique. A lot of projects use free labour but we feel that in a world of brexit and recessions we need to provide our young people with real jobs and training.
We help the public recycle their unwanted furniture. We recycle tonnes of furniture every week which is saved from landfill. This is helping us to help reduce climate change and build up a circular economy in town and villages.
Why are we telling you this?
We believe that Social Enterprises, run properly, provide a brilliant multifaceted solution to a number of problems. They create work, they are charitable, they are innovative and they change lives. We want to make sure that when people have furniture to donate they call us because they know one piece of furniture given to us makes a difference in so many ways. It supports other charities, it provides work for someone who needs it, it reduces climate change and allows us to get furniture to those who most need it at a price they can afford.