A VOLUNTEER who spent all week, every week helping out at a charity which supports families in need has been rewarded with a full-time job – after it was saved from closure.
Ryan McKee has been taken on as an apprentice by the Gainsborough Furniture Resource Centre by its management team following its conversion to a community interest company.
And now the 20-year-old local enthusiast has hopes for a possible future ascent of the career ladder after starting his own business management training.
His change in fortunes has coincided with GFRC's move to larger premises in Edlington Court on the town's Heapham Road South industrial estate in the wake of the former charity's new status.
Director Mark Picksley – who was in charge when the charity hit a funding crisis at the end of 2011 – took over the running of the company with the backing of a five-strong team of trustees.
Mr Picksley has secured an initial £7,400 European Social Fund grant to cover the first six months of Ryan's apprenticeship and pay for a training support package for the centre's six volunteer helpers.
"The charity had been running in smaller premises close by for a number of years until it was threatened with closure in January," said Mr Picksley, a former staff member at the Gainsborough Ping Europe golf equipment factory for 14 years.
"As manager I took over the centre as a community interest company, which means it is a not-for-profit concern.
"The trustees are Linda Darley of ABC Accounting in Gainsborough, West lindsey District Council's employment and skills project manager Nicoya Palastanga, Gainsborough town centre manager David Hawkins, Vanessa Maunders from West Lindsey Voluntary Centre Services – and my wife Lucy Picksley, who is resident involvement officer for Acis Housing.
"Essentially, we are still collecting unwanted furniture and household items for dispersal to families and individuals who can't afford new. But we're providing the service to anyone, not just those referred by agencies.
"We're finding that many families who aren't on the radar of charities and support groups are still in need of this help."
The economic climate has increased the number of families in a 15-mile radius of Gainsborough who can take advantage of the resource centre. And Ryan McKee believes the busy operation could prove to be a stepping stone for other volunteers.
"I came here on a placement from the Future Jobs Fund in February last year and when that finished I stayed on as a volunteer for four days a week," he said. "The variety of roles – from meeting and greeting customers to going out on collections and deliveries – means my confidence has increased and this is a great opportunity. I'd like to go on at some time and manage a company."
Gainsborough Furniture Resource Centre is open from 9am until 4pm weekdays and until noon on Saturdays.
For more details call (01427) 238948.