Please provide a short summary of what you do at Happy To Help CIC and why you became a Community RePaint scheme?
I became a board member for Happy To Help CIC since it started in 2018, and started volunteering at our Paint Shop in 2020 when it first opened – and I’ve been here ever since! Happy To Help CIC is a subsidiary company of Northampton Partnership Homes (NPH), which manages West Northamptonshire Council’s housing services.
Happy To Help aims to support NPH residents and the wider community and that’s exactly what our shop does by providing good value for money, by taking care of our environment and offering volunteering opportunities. As a board, we heard about the Community RePaint Network and their schemes, and wanted to try and start our own in Northampton.
Can you tell us what your typical working day is like and possibly share your top tip for managing your Community RePaint scheme?
We volunteers do all sorts! We take in paint that gets delivered, we check all paint to be sure it’s good for resale and process them in line with Community RePaint guidelines. We make sure the shelves are fully stocked and look good – we’re always thinking of ways to improve our displays. We serve customers when they come in, this could be helping to find what they’re looking for or to give some advice on colour choices. And on our way home we deliver leaflets promoting our shop.
We’re also a place to engage with NPH residents, so sometimes we may get some housing enquiries or have events here. Last month we had a community litter pick which was successful despite the torrential rain!
My top tip is to give excellent customer service, always, so customers come back and tell their friends about us. Sometimes we may not have what someone is looking for but when coupled with excellent customer service they may consider another option or come back in the future.
Volunteer helping out a customer at Community RePaint Northampton
What have been Community RePaint Northampton’s biggest achievements thus far?
When the shop was being refurbished, it provided an opportunity for NPH multi-skilled trade apprentices to learn their craft here which helped with their development. We’ve recruited a lovely team of 8 hardworking volunteers, without whom this would not be possible, and because of our volunteers we’ve been able to open the shop another day which is great for our customers.
We’ve also pushed our presence on social media with our shade of the week and our very popular giveaway competition which had over 50 entries. It was so successful we’re doing running another competition with the prize draw in June. We’re getting the message out that we are here. As well as supporting the local community, we’ve had clubs and schools get in touch to find out more and buy paint for their projects.
Since opening in 2020, Community RePaint Northampton has collected almost 6,000 litres of paint, preventing it from going to waste.
Staff and volunteers outside Community RePaint Northampton
Do you have any stories from the community you’d like to share?
We’re always asking for customer feedback, and when we get this it’s really rewarding.
One of NPH’s support workers accompanied a resident to the shop to help them pick out paint to decorate their new home. He’d had a difficult time moving home, but picking the paint and putting his own touch on his new home made a massive difference to how they felt at home. He told his support worker that the help he received from the volunteers and the paint he bought really helped to pick up his spirits and helped his wellbeing. Without the shop, he would have needed to save up for a long time before being in a position to buy the paint needed. The resident shared before and after photos with us, and it was so lovely to see them and hear how we’d made a difference to them.
We also received a lovely thank you letter from a group called Northampton Community Sheds who bought paint from us to freshen up a local Scout group’s hut. They said how much brighter the hut looks now, and how happy the Scouts are with it. They were really happy with the paint, but also thanked us for our help and advice when buying the paint from us.
Volunteer at Community RePaint Northampton
Do you have any painting tips that you can share with us?
When glossing wood in the home I use masking tape for a professional finish and use dust sheets to keep the area clean. I give the surface a light sanding and then wipe the dust off. I know some people like to use rollers on wood but I like a brush finish, it takes a little bit longer but it’s worth it in the end. When I’m finished I clean my brushes with turpentine and warm soapy water. And when using paint for outside, it’s important to check it’s suitable for masonry or outside joinery or metal.
What’s next for Community RePaint Northampton?
We’re still recruiting volunteers and working on expanding our network with paint donors to increase our supply of donated paint. We’re also looking at partnership working with local groups and businesses to increase our local impact. Our first event will be a fun day in Kings Heath on 5 August 2022 which we’re looking forward to.
Shop front and paint display area at Community RePaint Northampton
Click here for further information on Community RePaint Northampton and how to purchase affordable paint. You can also keep up to date with their latest news and stories via their Facebook page.
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