Inclusivity

Funding level: £10,001 to £25,000

Submitted by: Kingdom Bank Ltd

Description

Open Hands Trust is a local charity based in Leicester that seeks to meet the needs of those who are financially and socially disadvantaged. Thanks to over 120 dedicated volunteers the charity is able to offer free food, clothing, furniture, skills courses, advice services, mentoring and volunteering opportunities to a wide range of individuals including people from all different ages, faiths and cultures and representing the integration of over 100 nationalities.

Over 260 different agencies and organisations across the city and county refer to Open Hands low income/single-parent families, those in financial crisis due to loss of employment, illness or family break-up, those who are homeless, asylum seekers, refugees, those struggling with addictions and those fleeing domestic violence. The charity’s Compassion Centre has received over 50,000 visits since it opened in 2009 and has welcomed over 10,000 individuals through its doors. Thanks to its good work Open Hands received The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (the charity’s equivalent of an MBE) last year.

The Furniture Project began in 2010, due to an evidently unmet need in the city for free furniture provision, and remains one of the charity’s most sought after services. Through collecting and delivering second-hand furniture the charity has helped individuals to furnish their empty homes on over 2,500 occasions; in one year 89% of recipients said that they wouldn’t have been able to access furniture from elsewhere.

‘We met a lady with severe health issues…referred to us because neither she nor her son had a bed to sleep on and they were sleeping on the floor…We were able to deliver two beds to the household. She was overwhelmed with gladness because sleeping on the floor had caused her a lot of pain, but she had wanted to put her son’s needs first.’

Although the charity helps 450 referred beneficiaries with furniture each year there is still a greater need with around 25 potential beneficiaries having to be turned away each month due to low levels of donated stock, not to mention the many more who would come to the charity for help if they knew they could be helped. There is also a need to create a more sustainable future for the project by seeking funds for high-end items which would allow all profits to be re-invested back into the project. Currently the charity is not in a position to take advantage of such opportunities as the project runs solely on two part-time van drivers, however, with the funds to employ a Furniture Project Manager the furniture project’s full potential could be realized (after which the charity’s profits through its two social enterprises could enable the position to continue).

The Furniture Project Manager will supervise the drivers, take on all administration and warehouse management tasks, in order to release the drivers to focus on collecting and delivering more furniture, build crucial links with future donors and business partners in order to access more donated stock, recruit new volunteers to expand the project’s collection capacity, and co-ordinate the selling of high-quality furniture items to release new funds into the project.

This new role will ensure that the project can achieve:
• An increase in donations received, diverting in excess of 40,000 tonnes of furniture from landfill every year
• An increase in deliveries, resulting in another 300 individuals receiving much-needed essential furniture in the next 12 months
• Improved communications with donors and beneficiaries, effectively managing the charity’s resources for best use
• Creation of new volunteering opportunities, with resources to recruit, train and oversee furniture volunteers
• Expansion and creation of a more financially stable furniture project (learning from other East Midland based furniture projects who have successfully become self-sufficient)

Open Hands Trust

Location: Leicester

I am proud of the way that Open Hands goes beyond the call of duty to serve the poor and disadvantaged. The charity's committed volunteer team makes a huge difference by investing in hundreds of lives every year. Each individual in need is listened to, offered support, shown love and given hope.
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