Who are we? Traditionally firefighters have always been unstinting in their support of charitable fundraising. We, the Fire Services Fund-raising Shop CIC, were established in 2009, our aim is to support any firefighter, Fire Service or Emergency Service to fund-raise for charitable causes by using normal and novel retail methods under the Community Interest Company rules and Social Enterprise law.
What are we trying to do and why? In 2016 the only British manufacturer of toy firefighter's helmets ceased trading. This put the national fire service and us in a disastrous position as selling of the toy helmet was the number one fundraiser, it accounted for 55% of all our own shop sales. We couldn't allow this! So, as their machinery, moulds, cutters and other incidentals appeared for auction and resale, we purchased and installed it at our own warehouse, but it has taken us nearly 2 years to get things in their place and to start production. As we are a small CIC primarily being run by and for the Fire/Emergency services, we cannot be put into any regular classification, when approached; financial institutions could not help us. The total cost of set-up of about £28,000, was raised through loans from colleagues, family and friends. Due to recent changes in the law and safety standards, we have to use specifically engineered safe recyclable PVC and there is only one manufacturer, based in France. However it is more expensive. As we all know the Brexit negotiations are not going well and have been advised to be prepared for a "no deal" exit. This potentially means paying upfront the VAT and Import Duty upon our next batch of the required PVC. If ordered after Brexit, immediately the price to us increases by 21%. If this isn't bad enough, there are predictions that the Pound will again devalue against the Euro, effectively increasing the price yet again. We cannot afford to take this double hit as we are still repaying the original set-up loans.
What is the project? Simply put, the project is to purchase and have delivered the next batch of suitable PVC before Brexit happens. We are a very small social enterprise and cannot afford to purchase the quantity of plastic before March 2019 to be financially effective, however if we don't make the purchase, the rise in prices (due to VAT, Import duties and the devaluation of the Pound) may be totally cost prohibitive. Therefore we are looking to crowdfund our project as it is the only available route open to us that can secure our future. For, if we are able purchase the next batch plastic using the donated income from our supporters and with this financial "helping hand" we would become self-sustaining for future purchases.
If you have read this article to this point, please accept our gratitude for allowing us to present our case. I respectfully ask you to financially support our project and request that you make similar-minded colleagues and friends aware of our project; thank you for your time and potential support.
Derek Hammond Managing Director