ON THE GROUND: Rotherham Furniture Plus

Scheme: Rotherham Furniture Plus, South Yorkshire (RFP)

Funding: Needs £55,000 a year to keep afloat, most of which is raised through furniture and bric-a-brac sales. Some funding comes from Rotherham Borough Council, which helps pay the wages and the upkeep of the premises, although RFP covers its rent and the rates. The charity has just been awarded a £15,000 grant from the Lloyds TSB Foundation for England and Wales

Objectives: To increase the number of collections of donated furniture and recycle it by supplying people on low incomes or benefit with household items at an affordable price.

RFP has two basic roles. Firstly, it supplies people on low incomes and benefit (including asylum seekers) with furniture. Secondly, it allows people with learning difficulties who find it tough to get a job, the chance to work as volunteers.

"We have a lot of asylum seekers: it's their first home so they need everything from scratch,

says Jan Hather, manager of RFP.

With the extra funding from the Lloyds TSB foundation, the charity now has two vans in operation, which has increased the number of pick-up and delivery runs a day from eight to 16.

"A lot of people come to us with stuff they don't want. About 99 per cent of the furniture is recycled, but sometimes people try and offload stuff that we can't use

says Hather.

The charity has three full-time staff and two workers who have been supplied by employment services and training agency Nacro, under the Government's New Deal programme.

RFP also has four volunteers with learning difficulties, who are paid a small daily fee.

"They don't have to come in if they don't want to, but they like it here,

Hather explains.

The donated furniture comes to RFP on recommendations by Rotherham Council and direct calls made by residents.

The price of the furniture varies depending on its condition. A dining room chair would cost in the region of £4 to £6, a table around £10 to £12 and a double bed approximately £18.

Furniture that can't be recycled is taken to the nearest landfill site every six weeks - which adds to RFP's fuel costs.

The charity recently undertook a door-drop campaign using its delivery drivers to distribute leaflets, in a bid to recruit more volunteers and make more people in the South Yorkshire area aware of the service.

"We had our first furniture donation within half an hour of the leaflets being delivered,

says Hather proudly.

RFP also sells bric-a-brac to pay for advertising the service and events in the local press.

The charity is about to hold a furniture sale as a fundraising event on 13 April, which is open to the public and will be held at its warehouse in Rotherham.

Tel: 01709 362 235.

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