If it weren’t for the Brighter Future Workshop (BFW), 20 vanloads of fit-for-purpose NHS mobility equipment would have recently ended up in a landfill. Thanks to the project, however, not only have these scooters been saved from the scrap heap, they have been sold on to people in need, after being cleaned and fixed up by a team of young disabled volunteers.
BFW recycles, repairs and services used mobility equipment, either selling them on at an affordable price, repairing them or stripping them for parts. It also trains disabled and underachieving young people in servicing and repairing the equipment, and is accredited to give them AQA certificates in basic mechanical and electronic skills. The most recent Lottery grant has enabled the project to increase its training hours (it’s now open five days a week rather than three) and funds the increased staffing and operational costs.
The project has now saved thousands of mobility scooters from landfill and worked with hundreds of young people, winning several social enterprise awards and earning it a nomination for the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise. Thanks to the project’s efforts, more people in the area have been able to regain their mobility – BFW has an eBay site selling cheaper scooters.
“One woman bought a recycled mobility scooter for her 83-year-old father,” recalls Manager Jackie Tittle. “She rang us to say that her father had been out for the first time in 11 years to buy a newspaper. Regaining their mobility makes such a difference to people’s lives.”
The young people involved with the project have a range of different disabilities, physical and learning, and the training is tailored to their needs. “It doesn’t matter if all they can do is undo one screw a day,” says Jackie. “It’s about being part of a team and feeling part of the community. We’re not just recycling scooters, we’re recycling the young people who have been left on life’s scrap heap.”
One such young person is G, aged 18 and in a wheelchair all his life. Before BFW, he had dropped out of school because he felt it was a waste of time. Now he’s dedicated to mentoring others on the project. He says: “Coming here was the best day of my life. Learning to repair wheelchairs and scooters and knowing we are making other disabled people’s lives better makes me feel like a better person.”
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