Founded in 1998, Brighton & Hove Wood Recycling Project was the first of its kind in the country, dedicated to recycling waste timber – seeing it for what it really is: not something to discard but a precious resource.
Leading the way as a pinnacle of the local circular economy, we are now a charity and our aims are:
- protecting the environment by conserving resources – collecting, recycling, and re-using reclaimed waste wood, operating throughout East and West Sussex
- educating and promoting behavioural change – through both educational materials and the collection, re-use and sale of sustainably-produced timber and timber products, all at greatly reduced costs to the public
- changing lives, relieving unemployment and social exclusion – by providing jobs, work placements, training, qualifications, mentoring and volunteering opportunities for local people. Our focus is on supporting those disadvantaged in the job market through any form of mental or physical disability, social exclusion, or vulnerability
We are more commonly known by our trading name, The Wood Store.
Why we had to move
We had to move out of our previous premises in Elder Place, Brighton, coincidentally at the beginning of the pandemic. They were earmarked for housing.
We decanted to a sorting yard in Clayhill, Ringmer, and over the last year and a bit managed to trade, albeit with a skeleton staff and reduced delivery service.
Where we are now
After a long search and many delays, we found new premises at Oakley House, Edward Street. The site is pretty much that - a site! We've begun to refit, with the help of some wonderful volunteers who are busy refurbishing, cleaning and painting. We have some 5500 sq ft of space which will be all white with reclaimed scaffold. It'll be cladded with a feature wall, timber racks and a fully reclaimed kitchen. All the doors are reclaimed - there'll be no new wood in there at all!
What we need
We are trying to raise £15,000 to cover the cost of refitting the new workshop.
The workshop is where volunteers will be trained. These are people finding it difficult to get back into mainstream employment, are from socially isolated backgrounds, or live with mental or physical illness or disability. All volunteers are expected to play an active role, helping others increase their skills and confidence too. They'll learn a variety of skills, depending on their abilities and capabilities, from office admin to making furniture. In 2019 we trained 81 people.
During all three lockdowns, the support we offer has been especially important to those who are disadvantaged or marginalised. We are also helping with the economic recovery - with timber in short supply now and construction projects under threat, our waste reducing approach is helping to meet the demand.
In 2019, we rescued 830.8 tonnes from the waste stream.
We saved 414.0 tonnes of C02.
We created 13.8 paid jobs and trained 81.0 people.
We reused 303.1 tonnes of wood. 36.5% was pushed up the waste hierarchy into reuse; used by the community for DIY/building projects or as firewood, or made into a whole range of beautiful products from bird boxes to dining tables.
And 527.7 tonnes was recycled. 63.5% was sent for recycling into woodchip, used in the manufacture of particleboard, animal bedding, or as carbon neutral fuel in power stations.
With us, everything we collect is reused or recycled - nothing is returned to the waste stream. Reusing wood is 10 times more efficient than harvesting, milling, and transporting virgin wood.
Even our collection methodology saves carbon! Our 3.5 tonne collection trucks use less than half the fuel of a skip lorry, greatly reducing CO2 emissions, pollution, and the impact on the road.
With every tonne of wood we collect, we are creating work and training opportunities for disadvantaged people - changing lives for the better.
“One of the things we do best is help trainees and volunteers who’ve been marginalised from the workforce through mental health problems, homelessness, alcohol or drug related issues through training and mentoring.
I’ve seen people come from the tail end of addiction, living in a halfway house, to fully rebuilding their lives free from past problems. Some go onto further education or return to a workforce after long-term isolation.
We offer a secure, structured, non-judgmental environment with a friendly team to help get to the next stage. Simply having a daily structure with start and finish times, a cup of tea and lunch as a team, can really boost confidence. It’s an essential part of rehabilitation and getting back into society without pressure.
Many of our staff members were once marginalised and have gone onto build futures for themselves working with us and so have empathy, ready to support others." Steve Bannatyne, General Manager, The Wood Store
Any support you can give us to raise our target will be hugely appreciated by everyone involved at The Wood Store.