Community Champions – Volunteers at Hasting Furniture Service
Furnishing homes, reducing waste, creating opportunities
This month, RVA’s Community Champions are the team at Hastings & Rother Furniture Service, an organisation that has been making a difference to our local community for nearly 30 years.
Hastings & Rother Furniture Service was set up in 1988 to help local people furnish their homes on a small budget by collecting good quality used furniture and offering it at affordable prices. There is a lower rate for people on state benefits and delivery is free for pensioners and students.
Chief Executive Naomi Ridley said: “New furniture is expensive and it can be really difficult to afford even the basics if you are on a low income. Although it’s not new, our furniture is in good condition is an affordable way to create a nice comfy home.
“The additional benefit is that people who want to change their furniture don’t have to throw it away. Most people feel uncomfortable about the amount of waste that is generated so are pleased to donate their unwanted items to a good cause. Last year alone we saved around 300 tonnes of household goods from landfill.”
Hastings & Rother Furniture Service is mainly staffed by volunteers who work at the organisation’s two outlets in Bexhill and Hastings. There are a variety of different roles including helping in the shops, cleaning and repairing furniture and making deliveries and collections.
Naomi said: “People volunteer with us for many reasons. Some use it as a stepping stone to get back into the workplace, while others enjoy working in a team and learning new skills, such as carpentry and furniture restoration. Whatever their motivation, we will support them and we have a dedicated Volunteer Support Co-ordinator who helps our volunteers to achieve their goals.
“Volunteers are the life blood of our service – their support means we are able to provide a good level of service to the community. We currently have around 40 people volunteering at the moment but we are always interested in having more people join us. The service is growing and developing all the time and there are new initiatives to get involved in.”
As well as the furniture service Hastings & Rother Furniture Service runs training courses for members of the public in practical skills such as carpentry, furniture restoration, craft and DIY. These are free for people on state assisted benefits. They have recently launched a mobile workshop – Workshop on Wheels – which visits different parts of the community to help people with their own DIY projects. There is more information on the website www.hfs.org.uk
Hastings & Rother Furniture Service is supported by RVA, the professional body that drives the voluntary and community sector in Rother. Our job is to provide advice, information and support for groups like Hastings & Rother Furniture Service that bring social benefits to the neighbourhood. You can read more about our work on our website.