Recycling Lives Charity opens community-based workshop

Recycling Lives Charity has adapted its model to survive and thrive in lockdown.

When prisons were forced to close their doors to the public, the Charity was left unable to support hundreds of offenders and recycle hundreds of thousands of waste electricals – halting its vital revenue streams overnight.

The Charity runs workshops in nine prisons across the North West and Midlands, employing offenders to recycle waste electricals on behalf of businesses including BT and British Gas. These contracts, engineered by Recycling Lives Ltd, allow the Charity to be financially self-sustaining while supporting men and women to improve their skills and reduce their risk of reoffending on release.

Unable to service contracts within prisons during the national coronavirus lockdown, the Charity was left with more than 200,000 waste electricals to process.

To help to protect it, Recycling Lives Ltd stepped in; offering up a warehouse space in its central Preston facility to accommodate a new recycling workspace. Within days of opening, the workshop was processing 5,000 waste items each day, creating employment and volunteering opportunities for a dozen men and women in the community.

The workshop has been a springboard for a number of those who’ve worked there so far, including four who have been hired by Recycling Lives Ltd for full-time roles at its nearby Recycling Park. 

Alasdair Jackson, chief executive of the Charity, said: “Our biggest strength has always been that we run our charity with a commercially-minded model, working closely with the business and managing contracts to make us financially self-sustaining.

“The business’s offering has been a lifeline not just for these contracts but for some of our men and women, especially those who were released from prison shortly before or even during lockdown, who’s life chances have been even more limited. The team have rallied round to make this work, both commercially and charitably.

“It’s shown, once again, the strength of our partnership as we’ve turned a challenge into an opportunity.”

Gerry Marshall, chief operating officer for Recycling Lives Ltd, added: “We’ve all been faced with unprecedented challenges in recent months so it was our pleasure to be able to help the Charity to overcome this obstacle and continue to deliver its incredible support to ex-offenders. It’s great to see the space being used and lives being changed for the better.”