County Durham Furniture Help Scheme (CDFHS) moved into their first unit at Chilton Industrial Estate in October 2004 with four employees. They originally set up many years before that in Newton Aycliffe. They moved to Chilton Industrial Estate, managed by Business Durham, having outgrown small garage type un-serviced facilities and chose their unit as it gave them the opportunity to grow and expand.
Steve Mitton, Chief Executive Officer of CDFHS said: “We have seen steady growth in to further units adjacent to our original setting, encouraged and supported greatly by Business Durham’s business development and property teams who understand our business or property drivers. We are now on the verge of having facilities totally compatible with the flexible and changing nature of our steadily growing charity.”
County Durham Furniture Help Scheme rebranded as CDFHS last year and have freshened their image and style of operations. They now occupy over 18,000 sq ft at Chilton Industrial Estate, and their intention is to increase overall capacity to deliver increasing amounts of affordable furniture regionally. They also provide quality work experience to the local Jobcentre and DWP contactors and they are hoping to reacquaint their selves with the space available in Commissioned Provider work for employability and advice and guidance. Their ‘upcycling’ work in furniture restoration, “Shabby Chic”, funded by National Lottery, is adding to their staff and donations. They offer training in this area within the community in a semi-formal setting, encouraging home based upcyling and small enterprise start-ups. CDFHS will use the increased space to grow this now significant part of their business.
CDFHS is a trusted partner in Welfare Assistance delivery for Durham County Council, and are aligning this with joint working with the region’s largest Credit Union, NE First which offers the possibility of low cost affordable loans or direct Council support for individuals to get affordable furniture of the best quality possible into their homes. They are also a Durham Foodbank referrer and, combined with the MONKEY Project, are now jointly working with ALL of Durham County’s Housing Associations to encourage their tenants to come to them for furniture or for volunteering and work experience opportunities. CDFHS also plan to contribute significantly to the County waste reduction targets and was the proud winner of County Durham Environment Award.
Steve went on to say that, “We believe in proper presentation of our charity, partnership and relationship based working. We particularly would like to thank Business Durham for the support and backing and many meetings, discussions and joint planning and activities we have engaged in, to the betterment of CDFHS and the County. One of the joint projects Business Durham helped us to develop was nationally recognised by the Department of Work and Pensions as an example of best practice. We have gained external funding from outside the area supporting our operations and therefore bringing a form of inward investment in to the area.”