For this month’s ‘Meet the Scheme’, we spoke to Pauline Wright, Manager at Community RePaint Sandwell & Soho which is run by Law Leisure Learning, to find out more about what happens behind the scenes. Community RePaint Sandwell & Soho has been part of the network since 2002 and has become an integral centre of the Handsworth community, in Birmingham, over the past 19 years.
Pauline Wright (middle) with volunteers outside Community RePaint Sandwell & Soho
So first things first, Pauline, please can you tell us a little bit about your organisation, Law Leisure Learning, and why you became a Community RePaint scheme?
We started 23 years ago, opening as a youth club and adult centre and the centre quickly became a place for young people in the area to call their own. The centre quickly grew and started to provide CV workshops/skills training/classrooms, providing these individuals with confidence, new skills and socialisation, in preparation for the workforce within a safe space. Since 2011, Law Leisure and Learning have also run a hostel for homeless ex-offenders, and since 2020, we now host a food bank for local individuals and families.
I was interested in joining the Community RePaint Network as I think it’s important to save resources. We believe in recycling and we do not like things to go to waste. We also saw the opportunity to partner with a local charity that assists children leaving care – they find them a home and we provide them with paint. We also help with a women’s refuge and provide them with paint for free for their premises.
A volunteer sorting the paint area at Community RePaint Sandwell & Soho
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?
My team and I start our day off at the hostel, making sure all tenants are ok and completing any DIY tasks (including using paint from our scheme). I then start on Community RePaint operations, which includes accepting paint donations, colour coding tins, ensuring the correct type of paint is on the correct shelving.
Volunteers at the scheme are a big help and I am very grateful for all the assistance. Volunteers manage the sales desk, serving customers and helping them find the correct paint for their project.
Despite being busy, we always try and find time to be creative. We often find old materials heading for landfill and reuse them to give them a whole new breath of life. One of my favourite projects is reusing a door frame and pallet wood to create a new bench. We then treated and painted the wood using donated paint that we have at our scheme.
Upcycled benches at Community RePaint Sandwell & Soho
What have been Community RePaint Sandwell & Soho’s biggest achievements so far?
We have grown a lot since joining the network. We originally operated out of a small shipping container, but since growing, we moved into a big premises where we can accept large quantities of paint and customers can browse the store for paint they need for their project.
I also am proud of the amount of paint we get reused within the community. In 2020, despite the pandemic, we redistributed over 2,330 litres of paint to the local individuals and community organisations.
What’s next for Community RePaint Sandwell & Soho?
Recently, we have begun to upcycle old furniture using chalk paint that has been donated to the scheme. Volunteers do the majority of the upcycling, learning new skills and broadening their knowledge of furniture and painting work. We then sell the upcycled furniture to generate income that is put back into the Community RePaint scheme.
We’re looking to soon recruit a fully paid Community RePaint scheme manager so that the scheme can grow. If you’re in the local area looking for an opportunity, please like the scheme’s Facebook page and keep an eye out for recruitment.
But the most important thing is to keep smiling and continue to help people and reduce waste. There are many people who are less fortunate than most of us and need our help and if anything the last year has taught us, it’s that we are all in this together.
An upcycling project at Community RePaint Sandwell & Soho
Click here for further information on the Community RePaint Sandwell & Soho and to book an appointment to purchase paint.