The Resource Centre that we have set up in Rochdale is our pride and joy and is dealing with so many needy people.
From humble beginnings in Littleborough to the basement of the Old Magistrates building in Rochdale we have encountered so many problems in the last 3 years.
Littleborough was far too small to deal with the demand so we took on retail space in the Rochdale Exchange Shopping Centre. We spent a lot of time and effort to make it just how we wanted it and make it a good experience for our families.
But it wasn’t to be, throughout the Covid pandemic it became too expensive for us to continue, without the nod of the charity commission our plan to do this with just volunteers and without asking for money was in doubt.
Then a lifeline came from Marks and Spencer’s that had just relocated its retail outlet from Yorkshire Street to the new shopping development.
The old M&S building was given over to be used by local charity groups, approximately 10 charities took on space proving so many different services and offering lots of exciting opportunities.
As we were not classed as retail we were happy to be situated in the warehouse on the floor below accessed by support workers only – again we spent time and effort to make it a fantastic facility. By June 2022 we were up and running and servicing our now ever growing band of support workers – the fact that the space was free and included all amenities was fantastic.
But there is always a downside, the building is owned by our local council and M&S was running down their lease. We were always aware that should another retailer want to take over the lease we would be given 28 days notice to vacate the building, but with the presence of asbestos riddled in the structure the chances of that were classed as slim.
During the pre Christmas cold snap a large water pipe burst in the ceiling causing water damage to all 4 floors, thus ruining much stock and infrastructure. We lost all our donated mattresses and other furniture but we quickly moved on and took advantage of the New Year sales as our members donated so much quality furniture.
Things got worse when the plumber came to fix the leak but had to call the asbestos removal guys to get to the problem. They took two weeks to arrive with health and safety demands that showering and toilet facilities must be available – but with the water off at the mains that was not possible
In comes a portable shower unit and a Portaloo situated in the our loading bay.
Having sealed the room and wearing protective suits the ceiling was removed to access the guilty pipe ready for the plumber, the men in suits leave taking with them the shower unit and toilet. We are now in the middle of February 2022 having had no water for washing or toilets since mid December, the plumber arrives and quickly fixes the split pipe, but once the water is turned back on at the stop tap it reveals another leak elsewhere, that’s not good.
So M&S decide this is not good and will become very expensive.
We were then given 22 days notice to vacate the building – plan B was that we didn’t have a plan B.
Having dealt with the Golden Mosque over many years I was aware that the underground carpark of the old Magistrates Court has been used as storage for a long time.
With their help and a promise of a monthly donation we could have sole use of the large space. Three weeks is not a long time to make the basement usable and create a functional Resource Centre.
Week one was to get rid of all the items classed as storage, find the owners and get them removed. Week two was to make good all the walls so that it is weatherproof, power wash all the floors and install more electrical points and build some offices.
Week 3 was to move over all our shop fittings and stock to be ready operate as soon as possible.
Apart from a few unforeseen obstacles I think we did pretty good and managed to keep our support workers and their clients happy.
Below are a few before and after pictures to show how we managed.
It’s still an ongoing work in progress and we make changes as we see fit.
The Resource Centre has nothing for sale and is only open to our support workers that have identified a need.
To date we have supported women fleeing violence, asylum seekers and refugees, getting the homeless off our streets, patients leaving long term hospital care, veterans, families leaving temporary accommodation ( Hotels etc ) new mothers leaving hospital with very little for baby, getting children off the floor and into a bed.
We have provided so many ( 100s ) of beds, cots, toddler beds, prams, settees wardrobes, drawers, white goods, kitchen items, bedding, clothes, shoes, coats, rugs, curtains, wheelchairs, walking frames, commodes, crutches, scooters, the list goes on.
All donated from members of our Facebook group that has over 8000 members.
To them I say a massive thank you we couldn’t do this without you.
All our staff are unpaid volunteers that do some amazing work.
Our drivers are also unpaid and work so hard on our collection van.
As I like to say,
Onwards and upwards