St Jude's Furniture Store, Leeds: Almost 30 years of service to society.
Founded in 1979 by members of the St Vincent de Paul Society (“SVP”) in west Leeds, St Jude's Furniture Store operated from a succession of ever-larger premises, and eventually acquired its present 15,000 sq ft warehouse in 1997 with the help of a grant from the then Lottery Fund.
The warehouse is located in the up-coming ‘village' of Holbeck, about 10 minutes walk south of Leeds City railway station and half a mile from Junction 3 of the M621 motorway.
St Jude's has 9 full-time employees, plus one part-time, supported by an expanding team of volunteer workers. The Store is partially funded by grants from Leeds City Council (the Council also provides two of the Store's three 3.5 tonne vans) but that still leaves a very large funding gap which St Jude's strives to fill through a wide range of fundraising and revenue-raising activities.
Serving the community – in two ways...
St Jude's collects good-quality furniture and household goods from donors throughout the region, and delivers these without charge (*see note 1 below) to people referred to us by a very wide range of public-sector and voluntary-sector agencies.
Additionally, St Jude's is the collection/distribution hub at the heart of the SVP's expanding network of Community Shops in the Leeds region, which – unlike conventional charity shops - are not located on the High Streets simply to raise funds, but in areas of need and deprivation. As well as providing household goods at very affordable prices, the SVP shops provide volunteering opportunities and a social focus for lonely and/or disadvantaged people. Currently, there are nine SVP shops across Leeds, plus one in Bradford.
This unique dual-role structure offers the following benefits:
- more efficient utilisation of St Jude's staff, premises, trucks and resources;
- St Jude's can accept and turn into benefit almost any household goods, including clothing, toys, books and CDs, bric-a-brac and even rags and scrap metal (though we are not a waste disposal service, and our drivers' decision as to the acceptability of goods for collection is final! In particular, we cannot accept soft furnishings without fireproof labelling, nor mattresses and floorcoverings unless in pristine condition);
- our beneficiaries have the choice of either accepting our allocation of free goods, or purchasing their own selection of goods at affordable prices in a nearby SVP shop.
Serving our workers...
An integral part of St Jude's operation is the provision of training and work experience to people with a wide range of disadvantage and vulnerability, who benefit from the caring and supportive atmosphere which prevails throughout the store; for example:
- people with learning or physical disabilities, referred to St Jude's by caring agencies;
- long-term unemployed people, mainly referred to St Jude's by work placement agencies linked to Job Centres;
- people on Community Service Orders (non-custodial sentences), on work placements at St Jude's in collaboration with the Probation Service.
Many ‘graduates' from St Jude's progress to paid employment. The caring and worthwhile nature of our operation is nicely illustrated by the fact that, after completing their Community Service Orders, several ex-offenders have returned to do voluntary work at St Jude's.
As a further indication of our success in this field, St Jude's was in October 2007 given the accolade of Placement Provider of the Year by Business Employment Training Services Ltd. BEST is one of the largest providers of government-sponsored workplace training programmes in the Leeds region, working with some 150 placement providers, including very large commercial organisations - so this was a very real tribute to our efficiency, our professionalism . . . and our caring.
Serving the environment...
By re-distributing bulky furniture and electrical appliances which would otherwise go to landfill, St Jude's plays a key role in helping the Local Authority to meet its environmental targets.
St Jude's has an extensive refurbishment workshop, able to repair all kinds of electrical appliances, and to carry out simple repairs to wooden furniture. Appliances beyond economic repair (**see note 2 below) are stripped down into their component parts and recycled as scrap metal. Donated clothing is routinely circulated between the SVP shops, and any that proves to be unsaleable is recycled as rags. Of the goods and materials collected by St Jude's, very little subsequently goes to landfill.
How you can help St Jude's to serve the community, its workers and the environment...
St Jude's desperately needs donations of all kinds of household goods in good condition - especially fridges, electric cookers, washing machines and beds. Please use the contact phone number or e-mail address below. Collection can generally be arranged within 1 - 1½ weeks.
St Jude's is constantly in need of volunteers able to give a few hours per week, in many different capacities: in the repair workshop; sorting donated goods; van driving; in the telephone call centre; general office work; fundraising – the list is endless.
Lastly, St Jude's urgently needs financial support:
- help with fundraising activities;
- cash donations (preferably via Gift Aid, to increase the amount received by 28%, at no cost to the donor);
- bequests are especially helpful.
St Jude's needs every possible help to continue its uniquely effective service to society.
St Jude's Furniture Store
Tel: 0113 245 0800
Fax: 0113 242 6622
- * Note 1 - There is normally a moderate charge for providing refurbished white goods, and for delivery.
- ** Note 2 - xcept fridges & freezers: to avoid damage to the ozone layer by refrigerant gases, these may be dismantled only at highly specialised sites.