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Case Studies

Below you will find a selection of Case Studies taken from various projects run by The Reuse Shop (in the past know as The Furniture Project).  Click on any title to read more on the Case Study.

In all cases, the names have been changed for data protection purposes.

I arrived at The Furniture Project on a “Get Ready For Work” course, having left school.  In the previous year, my placement was 9 months.

In that time I learned a lot of new skills and gained a new attitude towards work.  When the course finished I was faced with the decision to either leave The Furniture Project and leave everything I had learned and gained behind, or to stay on and volunteer until I found paid employment and advance my achievements to the next level.

So I stayed on and continued to do what I was doing.  A few months down the line, I was made aware that a job was coming up, so I applied and was successful.

In getting the job, this meant a new level of responsibility was handed to me.  Since becoming employed, I have attended college to become qualified in the “In Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment” – PAT Testing, in which I was successful in passing an online exam.

I am also a key holder and required to open up and run the place on a Saturday.

As I look back at where I started and where I am now, I have a great feel of pride and satisfaction in how far I have come and hope to continue my success and grow as an individual.

Before starting at The Furniture Project as a volunteer in April 2010 I had previously been employed as a shop manager for 32 years from the age of 21. Around 1994 I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety/stress. Through medication and counselling I managed to keep it under control and continued to work.

However, around 2004, the symptoms of anxiety and stress became more profound, and over the next five years I spent a lot of time signed off from work, until 2009, when my employers and myself came to a mutual agreement to terminate my employment.

During the latter part of 2009 and early 2010 I was given the help of a support worker by the local mental health team, with the view of building my confidence in public and in the long run, getting back to work.

As part of this process, my support worker suggested voluntary work as a means of getting back into a working environment. I looked at several options through Volunteer Action, and within a few days I was contacted by The Furniture Project to attend an informal interview.

I knew nothing about The Project, except that “they collected second hand furniture “. When I learned about the broad spectrum of work that the project actually did, I was keen to get involved.

Initially, I was taken on to work for two days a week. When I started, my role was van driver assistant. Having worked for so long in an office environment, I initially found the physical side of the job tiring, but nonetheless enjoyed being out and about in the fresh air!. Having contact with customers helped me build my confidence in dealing with the public, which had been a contributing factor in my anxiety problems.

Over the following couple of years my working week went from two to three, to four and then to five days a week. This decision was purely down to me enjoying my work and knowing it was helping me mentally. Gradually I became more involved in the office side of the work. Again, this was a great aid in building my confidence, both with the public, and getting back into a work environment.

In 2015 The Furniture Project funded a City & Guilds P.A.T. testing college course, which I successfully completed. I have also completed a Manual Handling and First Aid course during my time here.

In June 2013, I was offered employment with the Project, which I gladly accepted, and have been fully employed with them since. I am now involved in all aspects of the project, including recently, the upkeep of the accounts.

When I became unemployed in 2009,my thoughts on my future were pretty negative, partly due to my illness and the lack of jobs locally.

But here I am, ten years later, dealing successfully with my depression, having learnt new skills, and in full-time employment.

Hi, I am Dave

I am 59 years old and happily employed by the Furniture Project based in Stranraer. Prior to taking employment with the Furniture Project I was unemployed for 4 years before starting with the project in Oct 2013. Before the full time employment I was volunteering with them and enjoying the challenges. I moved from Kirkcudbright to Portpatrick in Oct 2014 which saved me travelling 5 hours daily to get to work.

Working with the project has given me a sense of purpose and commitment. I very much doubt if I would be in employment today, given my age and lack of technology skills.

I was born in Castle Douglas area in 1956 and finished school there. I then started work with Corson Bakers at the age of 14 (1971).

At 18 I moved to London with my girlfriend at the time (1974).

I got work immediately with a car spares company earning £33 a week!

My girlfriend moved back to Scotland 6 months later to start work as an air stewardess. I stayed behind in London.

I met my wife in 1976 and married in 1978. I started work with a roofing company in 1977 and soon made my way up to foreman where I stayed until 1982.

After leaving them, I started working for myself with moderate success. After 10 years I built a good reputation and work was abundant. As the money started to build so did the temptation to socialise more!

My wife and I divorced in 1992 due to my heavy drinking and late nights. I continued to work and in 1993 I joined forces with two brothers to form a small building company which again was successful due to previous contacts in the building trade.

In 2007 one of the brothers died and my partner by the time was in severe health with diabetes so the company folded due to the time I took off to look after my partner.

She died late 2007 and soon after, so did my mother with cancer.

For the next two years I didn’t work at all, I took to heavy drinking and my health was failing.

I was persuaded to return to Scotland in 2009 by my sister. A decision I will never regret!

I took medical advice and stopped drinking and took voluntary work with the Furniture Project, then based in Newton Stewart.

Another good call.

We have two community case studies for this year.

Stranraer was awarded Royal Burgh status 400 years ago in 2017.  So we spent the year celebrating it.

The Furniture Project was asked to be responsible for setting up and organising a float parade in July.

We had lots of participation in the parade, from cars, lorries and buses, to floats made of various things and floats full of people.

On the day it poured down, but lots and lots of people turned out and lined the streets to watch the parade and participate in it.

Here is the link to the Facebook page set up to organise the Scottish Week events; https://www.facebook.com/stranraerscottishweek/videos/478890655799343/

We moved into our new premises and was immediately asked to organise, what we named, ‘a BIG Christmas Dinner’.

We worked with over 40 volunteers, from a real cross section of the community.

We accessed all the food for the meal from local and national food suppliers, including Tesco, Morrisons, Lidl and lots of local businesses.  We also received donations of money from a training provider, Lowland Training and a social housing landlord, DGHP. This meant we could host the meal entirely free of charge.

The meal was hosted at the local Baptist Church hall.

We had nearly 100 people attend and eat a first class five course Christmas meal, with a present of a box of biscuits for everyone and toys for children donated by Loreburn Housing Association and Cash for kids.

Our mini bus team then went and delivered approximately 100 more meals to local people.

The meal was intended to be for the most hardest to reach members of our community, who may otherwise would not be celebrating over the festive season with a Christmas meal.  We took a poll of the people who attended on the day.  Everyone unanimously said they enjoyed the meal and would definitely come again.  Over 80% of the attendee said they would attend a community café.  The  majority of people said they would prefer next years meal to not be on Christmas day, so it will again be over Christmas.

We are working on setting up a Community Café, for people to attend on a daily basis to access healthy hot meals and to assist with learning to cook on a budget and also be given support with housing and benefits issues.

In this year, during the course of the grant, we closed down our premises that housed the project for the past twenty years.

This was after we moved in the new premises.  We raised the funds and had the building built for us.

For the past seven years we had been working on a project with Dumfries & Galloway Council to create a Reuse shop on the site of the Zero Waste Park in Stranraer, so the local community have access to donate goods that would have otherwise gone to landfill. 

At the same time people have access to a shop where they can purchase affordable household furniture, electrical appliances and homeware,

This brand new facility provides the opportunity for volunteers to volunteer.

We have expanded our volunteering numbers through increased enterprise and space in the premises.  We have administration, customer services, sales, warehousing, workshop, logistics and community work opportunities for volunteering and we have a constant stream of referrals from across the community… Lots of local agencies refer prospective volunteers to us because of our lovely new environment.

Three years on and the new premises is thriving.  Sales of goods maybe excellent, but more importantly we are achieving our aim of working with some of our most vulnerable members of our community, people who have decided that it is the right time in their life to volunteer with us, so they benefit, we benefit and the community benefit.

If we can sustain what we do, we can tell you the same story in 2037, because that is how long our agreement is with Dumfries & Galloway Council.

During 2015 and the start of 2016, I found myself in a bad place in my life and the feeling of not seeing a way out of the position I found myself in. I was addicted to a substance known as “Legal High”, I was losing my family and I knew I was being sentenced to prison when the police found me because of the state I was in.

I needed help or I needed the jail to sort my life out, I just kept wanting to put it off further and delay it, I kept saying “I’ll do it at the end of the week”, but never did.  I could not see it myself, I only knew I had a problem.

I didn’t realise I was looking naft wearing dirty clothes and isolating myself from the world and most importantly throwing my family away.  Eventually I was caught by the police and sent to jail.

The first few weeks in jail were scary and really naft. The jail wasn’t scary in itself, the thing that scared me was opening the next chapter in my life because I didn’t know what was going to be there. I already knew that the next year of my life wasn’t going to be a happy one, with jail and no family to come home too and that’s the worst feeling ever.

 I sort of gave up, then after a while you think and you realise, if a book was your life, that means you write it and it was up to me what the next chapter said, then I thought if someone was to read my book, I would like it to be exciting, ,funny and enjoyable, not boring and the same old stuff, page after page.

So I started looking at this differently, came home from jail and made amends to the things that I could only blame myself for. I felt better about myself with the book thought in my brain all the time. I got my life back to normal out of sheer hard work and determination to be a better man because I was scared people would think of me only in the way I was and not how I was before or after it.

I look to the future, I am young, there is only up for me to go I have kids whom I want to make sure “have the best life trials, in my power to give them and MAKE SURE they don’t feel isolated and out of options with no one to ask for help the way I did.

My advice to anyone who might ever read this and feel they are in the same boat as I was, swallow your pride and ask for help. Signs might not be enough some times and “What do you want people to think of your book when its finished”.

I also feel that younger people especially don’t want to ask for help, I feel they don’t want to approach people and ask for help and explain that they have messed their own life up.  I know from myself, you beg for someone to approach you because the realisation of knowing you have done this to yourself is when you realise I can get out as well, but you have to want to change or there is no hope.

Mr Bloggs originally from Stranraer has moved backwards and forwards between Larne in Northern Ireland and Stranraer in Scotland, he left Larne High School at the age 15 without any qualifications.

Once he had left school, he did a few part time jobs including delivering milk, collecting scrap and helping a delivery driver. He then went on to start a college course in IT in Larne; he had hopes that this would be a career. Unfortunately, this only lasted for 6 months due to difficulties at home. Due to this, he moved back to Stranraer to live with his father.

Once in Stranraer Mr Bloggs went to a course entitled Work Readiness training with Lowland Training Services, while volunteering with The Furniture Project for over a year.

Mr Bloggs applied to do the course in IT, again in Stranraer, as he felt that this would be a good career path, but due to his lack of qualifications he was not successful.  He was able to attend a course in Introduction to Construction, which he completed and passed all the units.

Mr Bloggs moved back to Larne for a short period and worked using his new skills labouring for a friend for 6 months until he was able to move back to Stranraer.

Once in Stranraer He got a job on a farm for a short period, whilst volunteering once again at The Furniture Project now known as The Community Reuse Shop.

In September 2017 Mr Bloggs went back to Lowland Training Services and did training in Confidence Building and Interviewing Techniques, to help him with a job in the future.

This then led to an interview with The Community Reuse Shop. Mr Bloggs interview was successful and he started with them soon after as an employee in October 2017.

In advance of his new employment the Community Reuse Shop and Lowland Training Services put Mr Bloggs through his Pat Testing Training to assist with his candidacy so that he could then use these skills within the Job.  He passed this, demonstrating a high level of enthusiasm and ability.

Mr Bloggs feels as though this is a positive move as the support from The Furniture Project was the only constant in his life for many years, which has helped him, feel secure and confident, and has also helped him to find a career path that he can follow.