Bee Wirral takes over management of Refresh furniture scheme

Bee Wirral is a not-for-profit community interest company based in Beechwood. They are now operating Refresh on behalf of Magenta Living and Wirral Borough Council.

Refresh is an up-cycling project using unwanted materials and furniture from Magenta Living’s empty homes and their Bulky Environmental Refuse Team (BERT).

The main aim of Refresh is to divert waste from landfill, reduce carbon footprint, end furniture poverty and deter fly-tipping across the housing associations’ neighbourhoods. 

The initiative was spearheaded by Magenta Living a few years ago working with Wirral Environmental Network and Wirral Councils Eco Schools Officer the project has grown considerably in demand since then.

The Refresh Project has won awards for innovation and for helping residents in need of furniture to end furniture poverty. The pre-loved furniture and materials are taken to the Refresh warehouse and is photographed and catalogued so residents can choose what items they need.

Some furniture may need a bit of TLC but in the main, it is in great condition and can go straight out for delivery. White goods are all PAT tested for safety and all deliveries are free of charge and carried out by Wirral Borough Council Waste enforcement staff and community volunteers.

During the pandemic, Wirral Council Housing Options Team emptied the Refresh store twice giving local homeless people items for their starter homes. Last year Magenta Living delivered preloved furniture to 37 residents in need and diverted four tonnes of waste from landfill. 
 
One Wirral resident was a nurse who came from overseas to work at Arrowe Park Hospital. She arrived with just a suitcase containing her clothes. Refresh helped her with enough furniture and materials to fully furnish her home. She was thrilled and now has a lovely place she calls home. 

Maureen Davies Environmental Services Manager for Magenta Living said, “I’m delighted that we are putting Refresh in the safe hands of Bee Wirral. Refresh demand has grown considerably since we set it up with the help from our partners.

“Other Housing Providers are looking to join in the next 12 months as there’s nothing like it in the sector to help customers in need. You can’t deliver a community project of this size and social value on your own so that’s why we have engaged with Bee Wirral to manage this for us all for a 12 months pilot scheme.

“Rising energy and food bills will devastate our poorest families so we are envisaging that the demand for this furniture service will increase even further. We have a huge supply of furniture and are ready to help if Ukrainians get rehoused in Wirral. We will make sure they can access the furniture to make them feel safe and at home as much as possible.”

Rachael McCoosh Director of Bee Wirral said, “We are beyond excited about managing this fabulous membership scheme. We have the skills and expertise to deliver community projects and a track record for making them sustainable long term.

“We are also successful in applying for funding bids and will be doing so we can grow Refresh even further. We strongly believe in tackling climate change as a business. Sending bulky items to landfill not only impacts on our natural environment but it costs an absolute fortune too so we have to do something collectively to make a significant difference.

“Local Councillors and our Board are fully behind delivering Refresh and helping to end poverty is paramount to us all.

“I firmly believe that if you truly believe in a service you can make it succeed and everybody involved in Refresh is so passionate about it we couldn’t resist in getting involved. Refresh is currently on a referral basis only to members but we are hoping we can help more communities as we expand going forward. ”

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