Funding proves key for furniture recycling operation

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SOCIAL enterprise Doncaster Refurnish has received a £50,000 loan and a £2,000 grant from the Key Fund to support the opening of a new furniture retail outlet in Wath.

The furniture recycling scheme aims to reduce landfill by collecting unwanted household furniture, which is then repaired and sold at affordable prices to people on low incomes. It has received a total £400,000 investment from the Key Fund over the last ten years.

Doncaster Refurnish is a Doncaster-based company with a turnover of around £1m and a head count of 35 to 40.

It was formed in 2003 and currently has four retail outlets in Adwick, Carcroft, Doncaster town centre and Thorne. It is about to open a fifth outlet in Wath, to serve the Dearne Valley.

Refurnish also received grant support from the Coalfields Regeneration Trust for the Wath outlet. Andy Simpson, CEO of Refurnish, said: “When I was turned down by the bank, it really highlighted the reason for the Key Fund to exist and it showed that the Key Fund has a very competitive advantage. They are fast and efficient at turning around the deals and more important, truly understand our sector.”

Ann Oldroyd, CEO of the Sheffield-based Key Fund, which is itself a social enterprise, said: “We’ve bucked the trend at a time when there’s a huge and increasing barrier to finance in the current economic climate, some of the banks just aren’t lending. Yet we’ve given out loans and investments to more enterprises than ever before.”

Based in Yorkshire and supporting projects across the north of England, the Key Fund offers grants, loans and equity packages to voluntary and community organisations, charities, co-operatives, social entrepreneurs and social enterprises.

Ms Oldroyd said: “The ethos of the Key Fund ties in with Nick Clegg’s recent push for a ‘John Lewis’ style economy to drive productivity and growth.

“Responsible capitalism is something we’ve been practising for years in the North. It’s timely to recognise that ethically-driven business can be resilient and successful business models.”

Ms Oldroyd added: “Social enterprises, charities, community groups and voluntary organisations have a significant role to play in providing better public services and improving the lives of the most disadvantaged in so- ciety.

“They also have a pivotal role in generating meaningful jobs and volunteering opportunities.

“And yet it’s these organisations that struggle the most to raise finance from mainstream providers such as banks and building societies.

“We’re incredibly proud of unlocking so much success to date, and we have a lot more to invest.”