Give old craft materials a new lease of life

Give old craft materials a new lease of life

They say one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure. This is certainly the case for Reuseful UK, which helps provide a home for unneeded bits and bobs that might otherwise end up in landfill.

The registered charity supports a network of ‘scrap stores’ around the UK where an Aladdin’s cave of goodies benefit community groups, charities and sick children. 

Sarah Hall, project manager for Reuseful UK, says: “'Scrap stores' are springing up across the UK and take unwanted items from companies and individuals to repurpose them for a new life. All manner of goods in reasonable condition are accepted, from unwanted craft items and fabrics and wool to picture frames, shop mannequins and Christmas decorations.”

 Art supplies and old craft materials always go down a treat at the 'scrap stores' 

Art supplies and old craft materials always go down a treat at the 'scrap stores' 

 “None of what we receive is rubbish – everything is useful to someone,” adds Sarah. Some of the items donated are sold on as they can be used by artists, craft groups and other community groups, while others are made into kits, including teddy-bear craft kits made out of old work uniforms.

One heart-warming project is the Box of Rainbows Project, where craft boxes packed with buttons, glitter and crafting kits, all from reusable materials, are given to children with life-limiting illnesses. 

“The children are so excited when they receive their craft boxes,” says Sarah. “Some parents have told us they’ve taken the boxes with them to hospital to give their child something to look forward to. It’s a great way for families to make memories together. To make it special, we include a knitted heart, created by helpers, with a tag saying ‘This box has been especially made with love for you’. The tag is signed by the volunteers who pack the box.”  

 Sarah having fun as she she delivers another lovingly-prepared Box of Rainbows 

Sarah having fun as she she delivers another lovingly-prepared Box of Rainbows 

These volunteers are a key part of the Reuseful mission as all are recruited because they’ve found it difficult to get into or back to work. “We recruit people who’ve lost confidence or been out of employment for some time. Over the placement with us they get the skills and experience they need to find new work. 

“Last year we helped more than 40 people gain employment and the difference it makes to these volunteers’ lives – and their families – has been phenomenal,” says Sarah. 

 “Throwing something away when it’s no longer needed may feel like the easiest thing to do for some people – but it’s also the costliest thing to do. 

“What we’re trying to do is save money and reduce waste, as well as hopefully inspiring people to get together and develop craft skills which they can then pass onto other people and down the generations.”

To find your nearest scrap store call 0560 364 9391 or visit www.reusefuluk.org If you’d like to knit a heart (ideally around 3.5in wide) or donate crafts to go in the Box of Rainbows please post to: Reuseful UK, 3 Commercial Road, March, Chatteris, Cambridgeshire PE15 8QP