Many people in the charity sector have said that when such a crisis as this pandemic occurs – that’s when charities come into their own – the passion and energy to help is obvious to us as the network for Reuse Charities from across the UK.
The lockdown means shutdown for the majority of charities and businesses out there, but there are Reuse charities who, although they have had to stop collecting and supplying reusable goods to customers, continue to respond to the changing needs in their local communities. Many are delivering everything from food, medicine and other provisions, as well as essential furniture and electricals to those most affected by this crisis. It’s not business as usual but in such an emergency the sector steps up to support no matter what.
Although we are in lockdown and shutdown, there are still people who require emergency accommodation which includes beds, sofas, tables, cookers, and fridges. Those being rehoused or in need of such items are evidently the most vulnerable at this time or are the most deserving of help in our communities; people who are homeless, refugees, key workers, and frontline staff, and people fleeing domestic abuse to name but a few.
Our query as a sector from the start of this crisis has been – with lockdown, stay at home, and self-isolation being the order of not just the day but month after month: How essential is making a house a home at this time of crisis?
Reuse stores are closed, but we are making plans for when furniture and electricals are deemed essential again. Essential items to support people’s living standards and at the very least keeping their food fresh, being able to put cooked food on a table for their families, and then putting them into bed at night.
These Reuse charities are running an emergency service with the smallest of teams ever; we suggest they are delivering an essential service. This is a sector that is proud of its work to support the most vulnerable in their communities and when we asked what they were most proud of, most said they have been overwhelmed by the dedication of staff and volunteers to get back to serving their community despite the risk to themselves. This is the sector’s dilemma – support the most vulnerable and keep their charities operational while ensuring they have the correct processes in place to protect their teams delivering the goods to those that need them most.
The second dilemma is that the demand for furniture and electricals is obviously outstripping supply as we cannot collect in order to process and deliver reusable goods to people. These charities are on a knife-edge when we look at sustainability, and we at the Reuse Network are trying everything to secure specific and tailored funds to help stabilise and restart this Reuse sector once the crisis is over. When it is over Reuse Network members will be pressured to collect a surge of donated items, collect more from our major retail partners and divert product from the waste stream and the fly-tipping problem, and then to supply to a wider customer base that is leaving the house for the first time in months. We then must have the teams in place to test, repair, and process the items and then deliver them into people’s homes once again.
Crucially the Reuse sector needs to stabilise, be sustainable, and to be able to start again once we are out of this pandemic – but also to do it cautiously while considering the health and welfare of staff and volunteers when servicing the desperate needs in our communities.
More and more people will experience hardship because of this coronavirus crisis and the impact will continue long after the lockdown is removed and the charity reuse sector is adamant it will be back in business to help because #ReuseMatters