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Ladywood Furniture Project came into being in 1989 following the decision of the Department of Social Security to no longer offer grants to assist families furnishing new homes. In the beginning Ladywood Furniture Project, relied heavily on the good will of Community Services to collect and distribute furniture donated by the general public.
This severely restricted Lfp’s ability to provide assistance to those who needed help and there were severe problems making collections and deliveries with a vehicle only available one day each week.
Lfp was operated by a group of local people, working as volunteers, who formed the original management group, meeting from time to time, to discuss and form ideas of developing the project to its full potential,
In its infancy Lfp was located in an unused block of maisonettes, Cavell House, having the use of two of the ground floor properties, one of which was shared with The Babywood Project (a day nursery) and the other used as a store and showroom for furniture.
In 1992 a decision was made to apply to the “Ladywood Anti Poverty Initiative” for funding to employ two full time workers, at the same time Birmingham Economic Development Department was approached for funds to buy a vehicle. This application was successful and a Ford Cargo Van was purchased. In addition sufficient funds were made available to employ two full time staff for twelve months.
In 1994 with the support of the Birmingham Economic Development Department and City Housing Department, Lfp applied to the Inner City Partnership programme for funding and the application was successful, assuring a further four years.
Ladywood Furniture Project was encouraged to use this time to become self-reliant and various initiatives were tried, including offering a furniture removal service to fund its core activity. It proved impossible to make the supply of furniture self-financing without raising our charges to a level that would exclude the very people that needed help and defeated our objectives. For a long period it looked like Lfp was doomed but Birmingham City Council recognised the community need and kept the project afloat.
In the last three years, Lfp have been fortunate to secure commercial contracts that have generated sufficient revenue to meet most of its furniture service operating costs and along with a small amount of funding through the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund the service has been able to help families across Birmingham.
Currently the commercial work enables Lfp to employ thirteen paid staff and support an enthusiastic group of volunteers.