The amount of IT equipment, perfectly good machines, needlessly destined for landfill was unnecessary and a waste both morally and financially. When four ex college teachers and trainers put their heads together, they came up with an innovative plan which would not only reduce waste to landfill but would also help the community in a big way.
Based in an area of high deprivation, Community Recycling Consortium (CRC) was set up with the aim of training individuals with physical and mental disabilities which are not funded or supported well in society, like anxiety, depression and mental health issues, to help them get back into employment. CRC, a not for profit community enterprise company, started by requesting old IT equipment from organisations and it took them 5 months or so of ringing around to build up an adequate amount of stock to work on. Then CRC approached Job Centre Plus and Remploy to see who needed support in the community. Through these efforts, plus reaching out to other organisations, CRC gradually took on around a dozen people in their first year.
Bill Harvey, co-founder and Operations Director explains their objectives:
“We are a community interest company with charitable objectives of helping people with physical disabilities and mental health issues in our local community. When people join CRC, they all start at the same point, taking computers apart so they can learn what the parts are. Then they progress to working on small laptops and things so that they can identify the faults, install new software, etc., so that they can be sold on. Most people stay a few months, but many don’t want to move on.”
CRC’s way of working is unique, they have thrown political correctness in the bin. It’s a real working environment where professionalism and expectations are high and a proper day’s work is on the to-do list. The company also take on apprentices, but are reliant on a regular flow of hardware to keep people in training.
In 2015, Stoke on Trent based CRC started working with several local organisations, which included local IT provider Prism, to expand their idea by bringing a regular flow of IT equipment into stock. Prism work with CRC and provide a regular bulk delivery of old or redundant PCs and laptops which Prism collects from their customers who are upgrading. But what happens to them next? Bill explains:
“Now we are working with high volumes of IT equipment, we take them apart and fix any issues. Essentially, we refurbish them which means that CRC now sell hundreds of laptops nationwide, shipping around 30 to 40 laptops per week from our shop and through our eBay site.”
The increased income means that they have moved to some larger premises and can provide greater opportunities for those in the local community. Bill tells us what the impact has been:
“Our new premises mean we can train and support more people in the community and we’ve even got three apprentices who have joined the CRC team. We are creating real jobs and opportunities for the young and disadvantaged young adults and we now have 10 paid employees and 10 volunteers working with us on a weekly basis.”
As a community interest company with charity objectives, CRC are a shining example of how working together with businesses in the community can help others and make such a difference to someone’s life.
“It’s great to have the support of all the local companies who support us, and the donations made by Prism make such a positive impact on people’s lives, it’s incredible. Employees who previously struggled in a normal working environment and were on heavy medication are now being weaned off, working normal jobs and getting back to a more stable way of life. It’s heart-warming to see our great team working together, supporting each other – and one of the people we took on in the first year is now one of our Directors.”