Local prison partnership helps furniture sales soar!

16 April 2020

An innovative partnership built between HMP Wealstun and our furniture warehouse and showroom continues to go from strength to strength, helping to maximise the profits from furniture donations.
Realising the growing trend and rising demand for upcycled furniture, the charity and prison started working together three years ago to enhance the value of the goods in the warehouse, while providing inmates with the opportunity to learn new skills.
Workshop 13, the Martin House furniture restoration workshop situated within the prison, increases the value of the furniture sold in the warehouse by an average of 300-400 percent.
Bob Crawford is a prison officer at HMP Wealstun, a Category C men’s prison based in Thorp Arch, and runs Workshop 13.
“Inmates generally have free reign on how they work with the furniture, so we notice a lot of attention to detail. Employment in the workshop is dependent on a successful trial which lasts anything from half a day to a day and includes an interview.

“A lot of inmates come in with no experience, so I show them how to get started. They may not be aware of the different grades of Sandpaper, or paint finishes, so I’ll show them the full process.

“We’ve had six inmates who have gone on to secure work in furniture restoration once released, using the skills they have learnt. Two have set up their own businesses, while four are upcycling and selling pieces online.”
Inmates can also get an AIM Awards qualification in craft skills, similar to an NVQ. HMP Wealstun held a stand at the Great Yorkshire Show in 2019, showcasing some of its restoration pieces for the Martin House Furniture workshop.
William Mayger, Assistant Head of Retail at Martin House, said: “It’s a wonderful project that benefits both the charity and the prison. The furniture warehouse raises vital funds for the hospice, and the prison’s upcycled pieces majorly contribute towards that. Items we wouldn’t be able to sell that would potentially go to landfill are given a new lease of life, making them saleable.

“We have a great working relationship with HMP Wealstun and it’s always fantastic to see how the furniture is transformed.”