A New Home

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When you meet Tom and Ann at 2nd generation furnishings you can’t help but become instantly enthusiastic about what they’re doing. Tom is so passionate about what he does and that passion is contagious. When I arrived at their showroom in Stalybridge Ann showed me around all the furniture they had impressively displayed in a very small space and she took me upstairs to look at the various rooms. Ann explained that in the future 2nd generation furnishings would like to be able to train young people in sewing upholstery and other skills that will help them in their future lives. I was shown a room full of curtains and bedding all put neatly into bags and another room crammed with crockery with an array of boxes. Tom arrived later and showed me his boardroom which was amazing with a beautiful wooden table and a dresser in the corner. He told me with great glee about the amount of people they had been able to help including one man who had nothing at Christmas time. They managed to fill a van full of things to furnish his flat including a fully decorated Christmas tree. 2nd generation furnishings renovate old furniture that may have ended up in landfill and then sell it within the shop. They have different tiers of customers. They are mainly servicing people in the local area who would like to have nicely furnished house but can’t afford often quite large sums of money for new furniture. In some cases people have nothing at all and 2nd generation furnishings will help them too. I volunteered to box up the crockery in the backroom. These are given to people free of charge that didn’t have anything; maybe not even a single knife or fork. The boxes are filled with enough crockery and cutlery for a family of four and with pans and other cooking implements so that at least the people will have something to eat on and cook with. It was a really good thing to do although I think a bit of a perfectionist because I desperately tried to make sure all the crockery cups and plates matched but is nearly impossible as many of these items were donations saved from landfill. Ann told me not to worry as not a single person had been anything other than grateful in the entire time they’ve been doing it. I managed to fill three boxes I later found out that people normally do about five in a morning so my perfectionism may have got in the way. I happily wrapped each item lovingly in paper although I did manage to get rid of page 3 in every single box because it felt inappropriate to use it to wrap items that might go on to feed families. I wrote some messages on the front of the box about what was inside each one and the message ‘welcome to your new home from 2nd generation furnishings and Louise’. I would love to know in the future where they end up and I wish the recipients all the best.

Later I met Sue who volunteered in the office. She had known Tom and Ann a great many years and come in to help them run their office better. Sue was one of the accidental volunteers who were just helping out a friend. I am not sure Sue would even consider herself a volunteer but she was one. Being in Tom’s presence for any length of time makes you so enthusiastic that I was worried at one point that I would volunteer for 2nd generation furnishings and not get round to do anything else.

I was called across the road to see Tom and the boys who had fitted a wardrobe in someone’s flat. The lady was delighted having saved up to buy it and was happy for me to go and look. The wardrobe came from a man in Dukinfield who heard about 2nd generation furnishings on the radio and I was very proud that it was on Tameside radio. It might have even been me that had mentioned it. The wardrobe was in his garage for years having been in his house when he moved in. Like most of us he thought it was a shame for it to be thrown away and called 2nd generation furnishings and they took it away for him. The man now had more room in his garage; it was then sold on to a very, very delighted lady in Stalybridge who now had the bedroom of her dreams. Nothing needed going to landfill and 2nd generation furnishings may go to pay for a driver or for them to continue on with their good work. Tom told me that even an hour of someone’s time to volunteer was worth a lot. We also spoke about people who had volunteered long-term that he’d been able to employ because people do need a basic wage and standard of living. Volunteering is all very good but it is important that people have a basic living. Tom was able to employ a driver and an apprentice but doesn’t take a wage himself. Neither does his wife Ann.

Later in the afternoon I went out in the van as a driver’s mate to pick some furniture which had been left in rented properties but would likely have been taken to the tip. The boys on the van had a certain amount of time to get there and the house could be completely full of furniture or have hardly anything at all in it. In both cases there was only a single item; cooker in one flat and a wardrobe in another.  Paul the driver explained to me that even if the cooker didn’t work they may be able to use parts and proper care went into making something lovely to pass on someone else. There was something sad about going into the flats all empty. The room with the wardrobe in had children’s wallpaper on the wall but nothing else in the rest of the flat but I knew the furniture would be going to good home. The enthusiasm inspired the lads on the van too. They spoke about how they managed to get furniture into people’s houses sometimes, with the owner’s permission, removing windows. They didn’t just leave a sofa on the street, they would carry up to where it should be, especially helping older people who were unable to themselves. They were passionate about being kind to people and thoughtful and they had a passion for saving furniture that they created into new pieces to sell on. It seemed to be a perfect utopia where there was less waste and objects weren’t just thrown away but used again for people who deserve to have nice homes. After all don’t we all deserve to have something lovely in our house, or home?