Flint Retraining Project Gives Back and Helps People Build Lifelong Skills

A project that was originally started to recycle bicycles in Flintshire has grown into a successful community venture that sees members of the public sharing their practical skills and diverting unwanted household items from landfill.

The ‘Second Chance’ (Garlic Gyfle) initiative, based at Abbey Upcycling in Flint, is run by learning disability charity Hft with support from Flintshire County Council, and provides valuable opportunities for training for adults with learning disabilities and autism.

Twenty community volunteers volunteer their time and knowledge to teach up to 75 adults with learning disabilities the skills to recycle a variety of household items, such as electronics and furniture. These items are then sold through the project’s two Flint-based stores (run in conjunction with the North East Wales Carers Information Service), with all profits going directly to the project, ensuring long-term sustainability. The items are also going on sale on Hft Flintshire’s Facebook page, with Etsy and Ebay shops due to launch soon.

Providing practical employability skills is a key objective of the program. Figures show that the proportion of adults with learning disabilities in paid employment in the UK has declined over time and currently stands at just 5.1%. Research conducted by Hft for its 2021 “Lockdown On Loneliness” campaign found that lack of access to gainful employment was a significant barrier to friendship and connection among adults with learning disabilities.

The project, now in its second year, is funded by the Wales Council for Voluntary Action through its Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme, and is an extension of an existing bicycle recycling project, originally funded by North Wales Policy and Community Trust.

Feedback from Hft-supported people working on the project has been very positive, with two saying how rewarding it is to make useful things from pallets – like benches, birdhouses and storage for trash cans – which would otherwise rot in the tip trash.

“I’m happy to place orders for customers and it would be great if the public donated things they no longer want.” -Carl.

“I like woodworking and unnailing. – Melvin.

It’s great to make useful things from pallets like benches, birdhouses and trash can holders. It would rot in the landfill otherwise. Ben and Daniel.

Members of the public have lent their support to the project by donating hundreds of items to the cause. In addition, the project organizes engagement events and workshops with the public and promotes partnership with organizations in Flintshire.

The initiative is also a champion of positive environmental impact, as it reduces waste by repurposing or repurposing items that would otherwise have been thrown away. My Recycling Wales reports that up to 10% of furniture sent to landfill could be reused, while a further 20% is reusable with some form of repair, and only 38% of electronic equipment is currently recycled.

Katie Higginson, Hft Flintshire team coordinator, said:

“Second Chance has evolved so much over the past few months. It is a pleasure to have the people we support involved in such an important project and to be able to present their ideas and their new ways of working. I am especially proud that the people with intellectual disabilities we support feel empowered to take the lead, speak out and explain to visitors and customers what second chances are and what it means to them.

Flintshire director of social services, Neil Ayling, said:

“All of us at Flintshire Council were very impressed with this retraining project. When I visited the scheme it was great to talk to everyone there and see the range of skills they had learned. Obviously those who come to Abbey Upcycling really enjoy it and get a lot out of their time there.It was great to meet the dedicated team.

Volunteering opportunities are available for people who have skills in woodworking, metalworking, electronics, sewing and textiles and all volunteering roles are advertised through Volunteering Wales.

To purchase Second Chance Project items, please visit their stores at Abbey Upcycling, 1 Heinzel Court, Aber Road, or 53 Church Street, Flint. To donate items, please visit any of the Second Chance locations in Bretton, Queensferry, Shotton, Flint or Greenfield. Collection can be arranged for loose items. Please call 01352 761 653 for details.

Comments are closed.