My Week: Helen Middleton

The market development manager at the Furniture Re-use Network recounts her week

Helen Middleton
Helen Middleton

Monday: My main projects for this week seem far less intense than the 60-plus hours I spent last week on a funding application and the production of a three-minute video. Knowing there's no guarantee of funding is an annoying fact of fundraising life. However, I've discovered my inner techno-geek after taking part in a crash course in audio and film production and editing, and now fancy myself as the third sector's answer to Kathryn Bigelow.

Tuesday: I have a slight fracas with a fellow train passenger over a window blind. I'm trying to prepare Thursday's presentation on my laptop and the sun is blinding. Unhelpful comments such as, "it's a train, not an office", are greeted with my response that, if he's going to be pedantic, it's not a cafe either and I've had to endure the sound of him eating for the past 20 minutes. Still, the Manchester-London ticket is an absolute bargain at £22 return and I enjoy train travel.

Wednesday: A visit to a furniture reuse organisation reveals it is bucking the financial sustainability trend. It is making £6,000 per week in furniture and bric-a-brac sales. We're supporting this commercial approach without compromising the charitable objectives of these organisations. I buy Led Zeppelin IV on vinyl to add to its takings.

Thursday: I give a presentation to 250 local authority recycling officers and am overwhelmed by how many want to talk about furniture reuse. It's struck a chord. In 2013, councils will be responsible for crisis loans and community care grant payments to low-income households. Why then, are most of their waste departments tipping unwanted but reusable furniture 'waste'?

Friday: I have desk space at a furniture reuse organisation in Manchester. At times it's chaotic, but I'm at the coal-face. My work consists of strategy, representation, marketing and business development, but when I'm here I get a grassroots reminder of why we do what we do.

Furniture Re-use Network co-ordinates 350 furniture re-use charities.

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