Nicci, please can you tell us a little bit about your organisation, SOFA Project, and why you became a Community RePaint scheme?
Community RePaint Bristol City is hosted by The SOFA Project which is a reuse, recycling, and rehabilitation charity, founded in 1980. Our charitable purpose is to help relieve poverty, promote social inclusion and protect the environment through reuse and recycling. We focus on selling good quality second-hand furniture, appliances, homewares, and paint at affordable prices for all. The SOFA Project also provides employment and training opportunities for people excluded from the workplace, particularly offenders & ex-offenders.
Joining the Community RePaint Network in 2018 was a natural progression for us as it meets the ethos and values of the charity. We stock both our Old Market and Gloucester Road stores with brilliant reusable paint that would have otherwise gone to waste. The paint area compliments other items sold in the stores and helps us save more items from going to waste and meets our environmental objectives.
Outside of the Gloucester Road SOFA Project store in Bristol & Nicci Peck, CEO of SOFA Project
Can you tell us what your typical working day is like and share your top tip for managing your business during these more uncertain times?
We have numerous volunteers and some staff who work hard on the Community RePaint scheme at our warehouse in Bristol City. Daily paint operations include processing paint that has either been collected from the local recycling centre or from businesses. We thoroughly check all the cans of paint to ensure that it is still useable and can be sold to either individuals or community groups.
One of our volunteers from the local prison has a real passion to the Community RePaint operations. We ensure that the paint that is accepted for reuse is of the highest standard, and to make customer browsing easier, we paint the lids of the tins so customers can see the actual colour inside, without the need for opening. This opportunity has facilitated in building valuable skills and experience for the prisoner, supporting their rehabilitation.
Meanwhile in the shops, our enthusiastic staff members ensure that the paint shelves are fully stocked with a range of types and colours for customers to browse and purchase from just £1 per litre.
The past 18 months have been a rollercoaster for us. My top tip to making it through these times is to always be flexible and reactive to what is going on.
Community RePaint Bristol City paint shelves at Old Market
You collect leftover paint from the local Household Waste and Recycling centre – what are the benefits of doing this?
Bristol has an appetite for reuse and householders are enthusiastic to prevent resources like leftover paint from going to waste. Through being part of the Community RePaint Network, a relationship between us and Bristol Waste was established to collect leftover paint on a weekly basis from the local household waste and recycling centre.
This relationship has numerous benefits for us at the SOFA Project. The contract provides a steady income for the charity, meaning we can invest in staff and operational overheads to continue the great work we are doing for the environment and community. Our relationship also benefits Bristol Waste by reducing paint disposal costs for the local authority and prevents a valuable resource from going to waste in the city.
With approximately 40 litres of reusable paint wasted in UK homes every minute, collecting from the local recycling centre offers us a wide range of superb reusable paint donated from householders. This means that our shelves can be stocked with paint for all types of projects so that we can help more individuals, families and community organisations find affordable paint.
Sign at Old Market showcasing the relationship between Bristol Waste and SOFA Project
What have been Community RePaint Bristol City’s biggest achievements thus far?
We are extremely proud of preventing paint from going to waste within Bristol and making it affordable for everyone, be that low-income families, community organisations, schools, social clubs or even students. In 2020, when we were only open for eight months due to the Covid lockdown, we collected 7,374 litres of useable paint from the Bristol area, helping over 960 individuals brighten their lives with paint that would have otherwise gone to waste.
Organisations that have benefited from our Community RePaint scheme include The Salvation Army, St Mungos homeless charity and One25.
It is also an honour to work with the volunteers from the local prison, providing them with new, valuable skills that they can use in later life. The volunteers have also started upcycling donated furniture with the leftover paint, which we then sell within the SOFA Project stores.
Do you have any painting tips that you can share with us?
My biggest tip is to be bold with your colours! During the pandemic, I spent a lot of my time painting SOFA Project’s offices with great colours. Our meeting room is one of my favourites (pictured below) and I would encourage everyone to be brave and create a feature wall in your home or office to bring some colour into your life every day.
When painting, I would recommend to not overload your brush! Overloading your brush can make decorating a very messy experience and waste a lot of paint. I urge covering just one third of your brush when painting for an even, tidier, and efficient decorating experience.
A meeting room at SOFA Project Old Market, painted using leftover paint
What’s next for Community RePaint Bristol City?
Apart from continuing to navigate our way through the pandemic, we have plans to expand into a new part of Bristol, which will include a Community RePaint area. This will allow more people from across Bristol to be able to access our services and purchase affordable paint to brighten their spaces and lives. We have also been in talks for potentially recruiting volunteers from the local women’s prison, to build valuable skills and experience for the female prisoners, aiding their rehabilitation.
Click here for further information on Community RePaint Bristol City and to purchase affordable paint. You can also keep up to date with their latest news and stories via their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.
If you live in Bristol and have leftover paint you no longer need, you can drop it off at the St Phillips Recycling Centre where Community RePaint Bristol City will collect for reuse.
Why not share this article with someone you know to help them save money and the environment!