Flint upcycling project helps people with learning disabilities to gain employability skills

2022-05-30 12:26:27

A project which was originally started to upcycle bikes in Flintshire has grown into a successful community venture which sees members of the public sharing their practical skills and diverting unwanted household items away from landfill.

The ‘Second Chance’ (Ail Gyfle) initiative, based at Abbey Upcycling in Flint, is run by learning disability charity Hft, with the support of Flintshire County Council, and provides valuable training opportunities for adults with learning disabilities and autism.

Twenty volunteers from the community offer their time and knowledge to teach up to 75 adults with learning disabilities the skills needed to upcycle a variety of household objects, such as electronics and furniture. These items are then sold via the project’s two Flint based shops (run in conjunction with North East Wales Carers Information Service), with all profits going directly back into the project, ensuring long-term sustainability. Items are also listed for sale on Hft Flintshire’s Facebook page, with Etsy and Ebay shops due to launch soon.

Providing practical employability skills is a key objective of the scheme. Figures show that the proportion of adults with a learning disability in paid employment in the UK has decreased over time and currently stands at just 5.1%.* Research carried out by Hft for its ‘Lockdown On Loneliness’ campaign in 2021 found that the lack of access to paid employment was a significant barrier to friendship and connection among adults with learning disabilities.**

 
 
 
 
 
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The project, now in its second year, is funded by the Wales Council for Voluntary Action through its Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme, and is an expansion of an existing bike upcycling project, originally funded by North Wales Policy and Community Trust.

Feedback from the people supported by Hft who are working within the project has been very positive, with two saying how rewarding it is to be making useful things from pallets – like benches, bird houses and bin tidies – that would otherwise be rotting in the rubbish tip.

I am happy making the orders for customers and it would be great if the public would donate things that they don’t want anymore.

– Carl.

I enjoy working with timber and de-nailing.

– Melvin.

It’s great to be making useful things out of pallets like benches, bird houses and bin tidies. This would be rotting in the rubbish tip otherwise.

-Ben and Daniel.

Members of the public have thrown their support behind the project by donating hundreds of items to the cause. In addition, the project holds engagement events and workshops with the public and promotes partnership working with organisations across Flintshire.

The initiative is also a champion of positive environmental impact, as it reduces waste by repurposing or re-using items that would otherwise have been dumped. My Recycling Wales reports that up to 10% of furniture sent to landfill would be suitable for re-use, while another 20% is re-usable with some form of repair, and only 38% of electronic equipment is currently recycled.

Katie Higginson, Hft Flintshire’s Team Coordinator, said:

Second Chance has evolved so much over the past few months. It is a pleasure to have the people we support involved in such an important project and be able to showcase their ideas and their new ways of working. I am especially proud that the people with learning disabilities we support feel empowered to take the lead, speak up and explain to visitors and customers what Second Chance is all about and what it means to them.

Flintshire’s Chief Officer for Social Services, Neil Ayling, said:

All of us at Flintshire Council have been very impressed with this upcycling project. When I visited the scheme, it was great to speak to all the people there and to see the range of skills that they had learnt. It is obvious those attending Abbey Upcycling really enjoy it and get a lot from their time there. It was great to meet the dedicated team.

Volunteering opportunities are available for people who have skills in wood working, metal working, electronics, sewing and textiles and all volunteer roles are advertised through Volunteering Wales.

To buy items from the Second Chance project, please visit their shops at Abbey Upcycling, 1 Heinzel Court, Aber Road, or at 53 Church Street, Flint.  To donate items, please visit any of the Second Chance sites in Bretton, Queensferry, Shotton, Flint or Greenfield. Collection can be arranged for bulk items. Please call 01352 761 653 for details.

Notes to editors

For further information please phone 0117 906 1697 or email media.enquiries@hft.org.uk

About Hft

Hft is a national charity that creatively supports more than 2,200 adults with learning disabilities across England and Wales to live the best life possible. Services range from residential care to supporting people to live independently in their own homes – from a few hours a week to 24 hours a day. Hft also helps people with learning disabilities to take part in daily activities, make friends and develop relationships and to find work.

Established in 1962, Hft is funded in two ways: through local authorities, who fund vital support services, but also through donors, supporters and volunteers who enable us to find new ways to help more people to thrive rather than just get by.

For more information about Hft please visit www.hft.org.uk