Turning trash to treasure

28 September 2018 | West and South West England

Plymouth Play Scrapstore

At Plymouth Play Scrapstore, nothing goes to waste.

From old furniture and paper cups to plastic syringes and even a Mary Quant dress, the volunteers at Plymouth Play Scrapstore are used to receiving unusual donations.

But nothing goes to waste at this inspirational community shop.

Plymouth Play Scrapstore takes donations of items that would go to landfill from both the public and businesses, then passes them onto customers at low cost.

The project started more than 15 years ago to help parents enjoy cheap creative play with their children.

Today it has evolved into a hub for reducing waste and promoting a greener lifestyle.

It also brings people from teenagers to pensioners together, boosting cohesion and belonging and showing that when people help people, it’s a good thing for all of us.

Manager Rachael Bleek, 45, who leads a team of 15 volunteers aged from 18 to 65, said: “We are making arts and crafts more affordable but we are also promoting common sense. There is a lack of money nowadays so we need to find clever ways around it as a community.”

As well as donations, volunteers also collect from leftovers from local factories, who benefit from reduced waste charges, and sort them at the store, which is housed in a former car garage.

Rachael said: “We get some really weird and wonderful donations.

“We once had a Mary Quant dress and we were urged to put it on eBay but we decided not to and let someone local enjoy it instead.

“We’ve built a real community, from the cracking volunteers to the schools and the businesses who work with us.

“People think crafts are for kids but our users are students, artists and even gardeners who come to us for netting and pipes for their allotments.

“I love it when our customers come back with things they have made and they are proud of them. It’s wonderful to see the change in them.”

The store is open three days a week and two Saturdays a month, with anyone able to browse the shelves and fill up a bag of materials for just £5.

You can also join as a member, to help fund the store’s work and get everything half price. Rachael runs workshops for groups, and on Wednesdays, the store’s events space is open for people to try their hand at arts and crafts.

She said: “It lets people have a go at something new and step out of their comfort zone but it’s also very social.”

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