For many years now CBS has been supporting our clients in repurposing their old furniture by brokering donations to local schools and charities. This has 2 main benefits – cash-strapped organisations give the good quality furniture a new home and a new lease of life and it benefits the environment as the furniture doesn’t end up in landfill.
Our long-term client Boehringer Ingelheim UK Ltd has made many donations to local deserving causes in the past, including canteen furniture for Reading University and office furniture for Child Beale Trust so we were delighted when they offered us some great quality soft furnishings; 8 black leather sofas and 4 high back and 4 low back acoustic sofas.
Our MD Phil’s wife Deb Green works at Meadow Vale Primary School in Bracknell as their Family Support Advisor and had long been complaining about the poor quality of furniture in the Acorn Family Support Centre and in the staff room. Their staff room chairs were broken with torn fabric and arranged in a haphazard way, but as is often the way in Education, all funds are directed to the children.
We were delighted to use Boehringer’s kind donation to give this space a make-over and installed the acoustic sofas in the staff room in a much more collaborative layout and distributed the leather sofas throughout the school, in the reception waiting area, the corridor and the Acorn Centre. As I used to be a primary school teacher, I was really interested to see how this furniture was being used and wanted to find out about its impact on the school’s culture.
I was given a guided tour by Deb who told me “We’ve loved the opportunity to be given this furniture. It’s enhanced our staffroom and created a real positive buzz. Even after just a week we’ve noticed how having comfortable furniture has created a sense of calm and the way it’s laid out has made the staffroom feel much more inclusive, opening up communication and collaboration between teaching and support staff. We call it “The British Airways First Class Lounge”
Deb then took me over to the Acorn Centre, where she is based, to see where the rest of the furniture found a home. Meadow Vale is a large school with 700 children and with up to 400 children in the playground at any one time, some children can find playtimes quite stressful, especially if they are also going through difficult times in their home lives. The Acorn Centre provides an oasis of calm during breaks for sometimes up to 50 children who find the playground too boisterous. The children can relax with toys, games, books and colouring as well as spend time with the staff who can provide instant support. Deb said “The children now come in and lie on the new sofas with the cuddly toys and use this time to relax, reflect and build resilience”
Having such a comfortable environment creates an invaluable home from home feeling which is all too rare in schools and again, like the staff room revamp, has had a hugely positive impact on the users. The school offers counselling and intensive support for certain children and their families so Deb has used the last of the eight leather sofas in her office.
The children can now lie down on the sofa during their sessions. Creating a softer, more informal environment encourages the children to open up and explore their feelings, empowering them to deal with whatever is going on in their lives.
I loved my visit to Meadow Vale, such a welcoming and nurturing school and was delighted to see how the furniture had influenced and enhanced the environment and culture of both teachers and children.
CBS and Meadow Vale would like to thank Boehringer Ingelheim for this generous donation. Boehringer’s Facility Manager Ian Smith told us “I’m so pleased the furniture has been re-used in such a way, it is such a shame to see good quality items just thrown away and with the help of CBS it can be enjoyed by others all over again.”
I’ll leave Deb with the last word. “Making this environment feel like a home from home helps us to nurture these children. Many even come back and visit while they’re at secondary school. We touch their lives for a short time, but can stay with them forever.”
By Caraline Hedges