Blackpool recycling team praised for double impact

Shabby2Chic Trainee Sarah and Founder Director Sandra Johnson
Shabby2Chic Trainee Sarah and Founder Director Sandra Johnson

A Blackpool organisation has been praised for recycling more than 30 tonnes of furniture and helping to train 64 people for the world of work this year.

Furniture upcycling specialist Shabby2Chic based in Preston Old Road was hailed for its work in reducing waste while helping vulnerable people gain skills.

It offers training placements ranging from day sessions to intensive one to one support over several months, tailored to the individual needs of her trainees.

Shabby2Chic CIC’s founder director Sandra Johnson said, “We are in the business of realising potential – that’s with the furniture we lovingly hand restore and it’s also with our valued volunteers and trainees too.

“We work with a variety of socially excluded people, including young offenders and people who have struggled with depression and enduring mental health problems; working with us in hands-on, practical and creative projects makes a huge difference.

“Our trainees come to us often with no self-esteem; our team provide a nurturing environment that helps them gain vocational skills and confidence to help them take control back and – upcycling isn’t just about the furniture, it gives our trainees a new lease of life too!”

One trainee, Sarah, said her training had been life changing.

She said: “Before I came here I wasn’t in a good place. Sandra and everyone in the team are so supportive and encouraging, there’s such a great atmosphere that I felt really comfortable for the first time in ages – it felt amazing to be so creative and be able to turn a piece of furniture no-one wanted into something really desirable.

“By the time I had finished my course, I had a whole new set of skills and felt like I had loads of options – I’m working towards opening my first business which I otherwise would never have considered.”

Shabby2Chic CIC contributes to Lancashire’s Waste Strategy by rescuing unwanted furniture before it enters the waste stream, preventing expensive landfill.

Dawn Welham, who manages Lancashire CRN on behalf of Lancashire and Blackpool Council said “Shabby2Chic have blazed a trail as one of the Northwest’s first community upcyclers and it’s been great watching them grow from strength to strength over the years.

“It’s always exciting to see what the team are working on, and seeing the real impact they make with people on a personal level.”