Attendees at last week’s Furniture Re-use Network (FRN) annual conference heard how the sector must now present re-use solutions to local authorities, with social profit at its heart; and demand that Government policies and programmes join up more sensibly.
The message of the FRN conference was that by improving departmental connectivity between waste and welfare issues, local authority cost-efficiencies, along with better waste prevention and improvement of the alleviation of poverty would be guaranteed.
In his keynote address to the FRN Conference, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles MP (pictured) stated that the re-use sector “is a proper lifeline for many people” and supporting the sector’s work is “common sense”. In addition, he made the assertion that the social economy re-use sector is far too polite and must now demand that local authorities work with the re-use sector to “take the weight off the state”.
Craig Anderson, FRN – “FRN members need to offer strong leadership, to transform the sector – to be one sector, one voice – one that can provide a coordinated response capable of campaigning for joined up policy in terms of society, the economy and the environment in their local areas”
Inspired by the conference, the sector is now fired up to demand access to more of the unwanted furniture and electrical items in the UK waste stream, and ensure that they can be supplied to the low income and struggling families that need them.
Craig Anderson, the CEO of FRN said in his preamble before the keynote address that “FRN members need to offer strong leadership, to transform the sector – to be one sector, one voice – one that can provide a coordinated response capable of campaigning for joined up policy in terms of society, the economy and the environment in their local areas.”
Sir Stephen Bubb of ACEVO stated that with public sector cuts there are opportunities for local authorities looking for “more for less” and that they must recognise the added value of the sector’s work.
Echoing the conference theme, Sir Stephen said “networks are stronger together” and said that “re-users are third sector leaders and FRN is an exemplar of professional leadership”, and he called on FRN and its members to draw the attention of politicians to the issues on the ground.
Local authority waste departments are spending hundreds of thousands of pounds per year on collecting and disposing of bulky waste – on average 30 percent is re-usable – and some local authority revenue & benefits departments are spending crisis funds on purchasing new essential goods to help people in crisis, according to FRN.
“This is far too much waste on a number of unacceptable levels,” it says.
The FRN is made up of hundreds of highly adaptable, flexible and welfare-focused organisations offering practical, on-the-ground environmental, social and economic solutions. We will be louder, more demanding but ultimately stronger together.