Storeroom2010 is an award-winning independent furniture reuse organisation situated on the Isle of Wight. It helps local disadvantaged families furnish their homes and improve their quality of life, and offers local young people volunteering opportunities, training, and work placements. It upcycles and recycles furniture donated by island residents and resells items at an affordable price, diverting over 119,000kgs of household goods from landfill according to their figures for 2020.
Wendy Miller and her husband Nick have been involved in running the storeroom for over 20 years. Young people have always played a vital role in the day-to-day activities of the organisation. Generational poverty and disadvantage are high on the island, and many young people feel there are no opportunities in what is predominantly an older, retired community.
Seasonal work leaves many young people without jobs for long periods, and housing prices are increasing. Storeroom2010 offers pathways for disadvantaged young people to build their skills and experience through volunteering, work experience and paid employment. They work with around 50 statutory and voluntary agencies across the Isle of Wight who refer young people and families in need to them. Three of the current full-time staff members started as young apprentices.
Manager Kerri’s story
General manager Kerri Salter (age 31) began working at Storeroom2010 as an apprentice when she was just 20. At the time she was living in a hostel and her support worker suggested trying to get an apprenticeship as a route into work. Together they got in touch with a local college who arranged for Kerri’s interview with Storeroom2010. Ten years later, she oversees the day-to-day operations at the warehouse after building up her experience through administration and management roles, working with the volunteers, and shadowing co-founders Nick and Wendy. Like the rest of the team, she is passionate about helping people improve their quality of life.
“When I joined, I didn’t really have my life together… and I was a bit all over the place. I was a bit of a rebel, but my manager saw something in me which I’m really grateful for, otherwise I wouldn’t be here today. I’ve really grown into my position, and I’ve also grown in my personal life. It’s helped me settle down here.”
Having young people like Kerri at the heart of the organisation has helped Storeroom evolve and become more responsive to the community it serves. Kerri is now responsible for some of the younger team members and values the fresh perspective they bring. Some are vulnerable and can present with challenging behaviour at times. She has learnt to set clear expectations and boundaries, and work with other professionals and key workers to organise effective support for them in their roles.
Continuing the journey
Following the pandemic, Kerri is now looking at ways to overhaul and upgrade the IT systems at Storeroom2010, and train younger team members in administration so she can be more free to work directly with volunteers and partners. Not all young people at Storeroom stay as long as Kerri. Because of the investment that the team puts into the training and development of younger team members and volunteers, many go on to find new jobs and opportunities. As Wendy approaches retirement, she is planning for the future and creating a succession plan to train more younger team members to take on the running of Storeroom2010.