Carolyn, what do you do at Prosperity Matters and why did you become a Community RePaint scheme?
Prosperity Matters was set up 12 years ago to provide advice, support, digital assistance and 1-1 coaching to people looking to get back into work or setting up a new enterprise. As a company, we are also passionate about reuse and run a series of creative workshops to upcycle different materials.
We realised how much reusable paint was being disposed of in Cornwall, and as a result, joined the Community RePaint network in 2017 to prevent this paint from going to waste. We collect leftover and surplus paint from local businesses and decorating centres, and redistribute this for reuse in the local area, by selling it on at affordable prices to householders, artists, schools and charities.
Our Community RePaint scheme can be found alongside our Fill Good Zero Waste Store on Stennack Road, providing a full eco-shopping experience.
Alongside our paint shop, we also provide free food baskets to the community, run a food club that stocks affordable larder items, as well as hosting a small charity shop and drop-in IT Centre, through which we provide support with Universal Credit, PIP appeals, divorce, probate, HMRC issues, home office visas and the Windrush scheme.
Can you tell us what your typical working day is like and possibly share your top tip for managing your business?
I always start the day by corresponding with customers and businesses that have been in contact to enquire about purchasing paint, or are interested in donating their leftover paint to us. During opening hours, the paint shop is always very busy so I tend to be serving customers, who travel from all over Cornwall to visit us, and running upcycling and reuse workshops.
We also offer a delivery service for paint, for those who cannot travel to pick up paint from us, so I arrange this with customers who need it. We have a good relationship with our local community and work to support individuals in the area, whether it be with paint, tools, food, clothing or emergency situations.
My top tip for managing the paint shop is to ensure all communications are completed on time during opening hours. This means customers can come to collect their orders when we are open or arrange to pick them up the next day. It also allows me time to focus on other projects taking place at Prosperity Matters and gives me a bit of me time too.
What have been your scheme’s biggest achievements thus far?
Our most pleasurable achievements have been making partnerships with our decorator merchants, home stores, local building companies, housing associations and the local council. We are very proud to bring high-quality paint to the community, who now prefer to shop with us due to our low prices, high-quality paint and our work to always find our customers the paint they need.
Another big achievement is our successful move from a small shop in Truro, to our larger premises in St Austell. It has allowed us to redistribute for reuse larger quantities of paint, and become a ‘hub’ for the local community to shop more environmentally friendly, as well as learn new skills.
Do you have any stories from the community you’d like to share?
During our five years at Prosperity Paint Hub, we have provided private and free furniture painting workshop sessions to the local community on a weekly basis. These sessions provide local individuals with skills to recycle, repurpose and reuse household furniture and items, bringing homes up to date, while upskilling local residents and providing them with an activity to positively boost health and well being.
Do you have any painting tips that you can share with us?
For interior walls, I always recommend applying an undercoat layer first (even by just using the same tin of paint). It really makes a difference to the finish of the wall once the second coat of paint has been applied. You will often hear me saying to customers “make sure you do multiple coats – just get the first one on as an undercoat, and you will see the results in the second coat”.
I also prefer and recommend using water based paints. Not only are they less toxic than oil-based paints, but they are also much easier to wash off your paint brushes and skin (simply accomplished with washing up liquid/soap and water).
What’s next for Community RePaint Cornwall?
We are keen to build our ‘scheme in a box’ idea, offering a community decorating box to local housing associations, householders, caravan homes, park homes, lodges and furniture paint projects. We are happy with our current premises, now of two years, and the community are too, due to parking, location and availability.
For more information about Community RePaint Cornwall, click here to view their scheme page.