Stuart and Rob have been working together during workshops over the last three weeks, exploring Stuarts love of music through the objects we have been donated. Project #ReStore has moved into the next stage of making with full steam and its own beat.
We’ve had some fabulous objects donated to us for project ReStore. All of which have a tale to tell, a history and a previous home. We asked people to add a label with a short statement about why they were donating or letting the object go. With truths, quotes or rhymes, a sense of moving forward came with many of them, a transition from one point to another, from their hands to ours. From one end to another beginning.
Friday 13th (unlucky for some), seen the best part (we think) of the project so far. That was the day Stuart, along with his support worker and friend Felix, came to meet Chris (and us) at Sense Kidderminster. And what a lovely morning we had.
After being in the shops for a month all told, it was time for the bins to be collected and taken back to Touchbase Pears in Birmingham where we will begin the art workshops with Stuart throughout October. We decided that it was really important for Stuart to have seen where the bins had been and meet at least some of the people who have been working so hard to help us collect items for the project and for ultimately Stuart himself.
As ever when we arrived At the Kidderminster shop we received an extremely warm welcome from Chris, who, whilst juggling his managerial and daily responsibilities, took the time to catch up with us and update us about what had been happening at the shop and how the collecting and donating of the objects had gone.
Stuart and Felix arrived a little after us, after introducing him to Chris and Stewart, another Sense team member, we all found ourselves in the back staff area getting to know one another and enjoying a lovely cup of tea. We asked Chris to help us show Stuart the bin and some of the objects that people had placed inside it, there was a wonderful range of objects from handwoven baskets, hoola hoops, plastic hats, a bop-it and wooden nut crackers. This was just a small amount of what has/will have already been collected and sent over to Touchbase pears, so we are all very excited to see what other treasures we’ve been kindly given.
Stuarts interest was definitely sparked, as we spoke about the different objects, how they felt, what they reminded us of, whether they could possibly make sound. Through conversation we have discovered he is very keen on music and playing instruments, mainly piano/keyboard and guitar. Stuart was extremely pleased with the cup he had his tea in, which was covered in pictures of guitars. On realising this, Chris very kindly gave Stuart the cup to take home with him.
It was then time to load the bin into our van ready to be delivered back to Touchbase pears. Stuart, Felix and Chris helped us with this. Again for us another important part of the project and the process of gathering material. We felt that Stuart should have a hand in the collecting of the objects and that Chris should be a part of this exchange. An integral part of the project the passing over of the material from the collector to the maker, all individuals actions and roles equal and as important as others. One can not be without the other, this ultimately reflecting the Sense shop structure, where these wonderful ‘frontline’ team members work hard and passionately to support and help to provide opportunities for Sense participants, at the other end of the production line of you will.
We asked the lovely Claire manager of Sense Bromwich to ask have a conversation with assistant manager Rachel asking her a couple of questions about a typical day for her and the team.
Describe a typical day for your Sense store.
I love my job but it is non-stop. Too much work to do, not enough hours to do it in. We have not always got the volunteers to help, so this makes things hard sometimes. We are always looking out for new volunteers. We spend the day just trying to get the shop full, sorting, tagging and pricing. Getting items of clothing and household textiles steamed for shop floor. Then there’s the paperwork and checking emails when possible and making sure the shop floor is kept tidy and everything is done smoothly and everyone is happy. It’s a full on day, but we love what we do.
What makes a successful day for Sense?
Working as a team to help and support the charity and the people and the families that use it is one of the most successful things we do, along with the fundraising and the money we raise in our shops that supports the cause.
It’s important to mention that without the donations we wouldn’t have anything to fill our shops so they are very important to us and we are always advertising for more donations. We also ask people to gift aid their donations, that’s a big bonus to our shops and charity which means for every £1 we get an extra 25p off the government.
What has been the most enjoyable part of your last four years with Sense?
Being a part of a wonderful charity and being a volunteer and doing my bit for charity and then getting a paid position and still enjoying the work I do to help the charity and the people that it provides for.
Big thanks to Rachel for a little insight into the work that goes into the running of the Sense stores and the contribution her team makes to the charity and those who use it.
SENSE stores are always in need of more donations and volunteers. For more information about getting involved and finding out what SENSE do check out their website.