The Reuse Centre Catalogue: Giving a Second Life to Unused Items

03 April 24


The Reuse Centre on Burrington Way collects and repurposes items from vacant PCH properties for others to use. At the centre, items are segregated and sorted into various categories such as white goods, toys, beds, kitchen appliances, drawers, wardrobes, TVs, tables, and chairs. They aim to recycle as much as possible, ensuring that items deemed reusable are refurbished and prepared for redistribution to residents in need.

In September last year, Plymouth Community Homes introduced the Reuse Centre Catalogue, an easy to use and extensive database of items that are available for redistribution. The Catalogue was developed internally by Michael Hall , IT User Experience Analyst, and Donna Vickers, Environmental Services Charge Hand, which has proven to be highly effective with Housing Officers providing for residents. 

The catalogue is accessed internally only and the housing officers are responsible for placing orders by completing a form on behalf of the resident. Residents are not authorised to place orders. If required, the housing officer can show pictures of the items to the residents, either during their visit or by sending pictures through email. This ensures that residents are happy with the item before it is reserved or delivered.

Louise Turner , Head of Property, Safety and Environmental said “The implementation of the Reuse Catalogue is an essential tool to provide residents in need with various items at the earliest opportunity. We want to reach out to residents about this amazing service and encourage them to contact their Housing Officers for any items they may need. I would also like to thank Mike Hall and Donna Vickers for their development of the catalogue.”

Donna Vickers, manages the Catalogue, adding new items with descriptions and images. The catalogue is organised by category, making it easier for housing officers to find the items they need for residents.

Residents can place orders for items through housing officers who coordinate delivery logistics, including scheduling collection or delivery, all at no cost. The catalogue serves as a vital resource for people who are in need of essential items such as furniture, appliances, and household items.

Since September 2023, the Reuse Centre has completed 104 deliveries, delivering 188 items to residents in need. These items have made a significant impact on the lives of those who have received them, providing them with the necessary tools to improve their quality of life.

The Reuse Centre Catalogue is an excellent example of how technology and upcycling can help improve people's lives. By making it easier for residents to access essential items, the catalogue has become an invaluable resource that has helped many people in the community.

We met with Steve and Jeff, Environmental Rangers who are involved in the collection of items from our void properties. They said " On average, we handle up to 10 collections per day, with the volume varying based on the size and quantity of items. Our process involves loading the vans, sorting through the collected items, and then delivering them to the reuse centre."

For instance, Donna, Environmental Services Charge Hand, ran us through the process of a television that arrived last week. Upon arrival, the item undergoes a visual inspection for damages and is tested for safety using a PAT testing machine.In cases where items like drawers arrive damaged, Donna and the team undertake repairs such as replacing handles, sanding down surfaces, fixing and tightening joints, and reinforcing the structure for its next use. Once verified safe, the item is cleaned and uploaded to the Reuse Centre Catalogue with a unique number for ordering and delivery purposes.

At the Centre we spoke with Martyn Fairbrass , a Neighbourhood Ranger, who shared a heart-warming experience from two weeks ago when he delivered essential items to a resident at Wyoming Close. Among the items were a cot, a baby changing station, and a starter pack for a kitchen. The resident expressed overwhelming gratitude, making Martyn's efforts feel incredibly rewarding and confirming the value of our work at the centre. 

We followed the journey of some rehoused items to their new homes by speaking with Trevor, a resident at Taunton Ave, who recently used our Reuse Catalogue Service.

Due to health issues, Trevor found it challenging to go out for necessary items, especially larger goods. Emma Hawkins, Assistant Housing Officer at Plymouth Community Homes, who introduced Trevor to his property at PCH, advised she would check the Reuse Catalogue for any items of interest. Emma ordered an 'Introduction Pack' for Trevor, which included a washer & dryer, fridge, kettle, toaster, pots and pans, and a variety of cutlery.

Plymouth Community Homes delivered all the items to Trevor's home at no cost. They brought in the fridge, washing machine, kettle, toaster, saucepans, and cutlery and fitted everything for him. Trevor was delighted with the service and said, "I can't say how much of a difference it's made. It's bloody amazing, and I can't thank PCH enough." He also expressed his gratitude to the delivery team, who were incredibly helpful.

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