Banbury furniture restoration project boosting confidence of disabled adults

Victoria Prentis MP with Second Time Around project manager John Corden (back) and two of the adults the organisation supports
Victoria Prentis MP with Second Time Around project manager John Corden (back) and two of the adults the organisation supports

A Banbury organisation, which restores old furniture with the help of disabled adults, showcased its work to help raise awareness of social enterprises today (Friday, October 12).

Second Time Around gave North Oxfordshire MP Victoria Prentis the grand tour of its base on Beaumont Industrial Estate ahead of the national 'Social Saturday' initiative tomorrow.

The team at CuriosiTeas in Second Time Around

The team at CuriosiTeas in Second Time Around

Adults with various learning disabilities refurbish old pieces of furniture either for commissions or to sell in the shop next door, which also has a cafe where other volunteers help out.

Project manager John Corden said he sees the organisation as both a charity and a business as they are there to make money but also to support the volunteers and the environment.

"I think it's both because the guys that come down here are working and the emphasis is on them doing work rather than being a day drinking coffee and sitting around, that's what's important - it's a job," he said.

From tables and chairs to wardrobes and cupboards, Second Time Around works with all sorts of furniture and has customers far and wide commissioning work, which is all done in the Beaumont Road workshop.

Next door is what Mrs Prentis described as a 'high-end antiques shop' with all kinds of hidden gems from Big Brother style armchairs to rocking horses.

Wendy Conlan has only recently taken over the cafe, called CuriosiTeas, focusing on homemade snacks like cake and toasties as well as hot drinks - fulfilling a lifelong dream of hers.

"The amount of people that have come and didn't know about Second Time Around is astonishing, having lived in Banbury for years, so it's brilliant that they're coming in and buying stuff, donating stuff," she said.

"So I'm hoping it's going to get bigger and better and it's great that Victoria's come today to see the work they do as it's such an amazing charity."

Mrs Prentis said the self esteem these people gain from making something valuable and of high quality is so important and much more beneficial 'than sitting in a day centre doing colouring'.

"I think the products are great, I think that people have a good and useful time here but I think the real value lies in the confidence that is giving to the people who do the work because they know their work is valuable that's really what is so special about places like this," she said.

Tim Tarby-Donald from Visit Banbury was among the visitors and said he hoped more social enterprises spring up in the town as he believes it is the future of business and charity.

Across Oxfordshire more than 80 events, activities and promotions have been going on this week to showcase the work social enterprises undertake and the difference they make, culminating in the day itself on Saturday (October 13).

Grant Hayward has been coordinating the activities and events on behalf of Oxfordshire Social Entrepreneurship Partnership.

“Social Saturday is a great opportunity to raise awareness of the tremendous work undertaken by these organisations in Oxfordshire and highlight to the public and businesses that buying products and services from social enterprises also helps to address some of the social and environmental issues we still need to tackle, despite having such a strong local economy," he said.

A full summary of these events can be viewed here: https://www.osep.org.uk/events/312

An interactive map with more details of each event can be viewed on the Social Enterprise UK website here: https://www.socialenterprise.org.uk/social-saturday-whats-on