Juliet Singer KFR PR & Press – in Conversation with Phil Reade
Team Leader & Project Manager Waste Not Want Not Chippenham Wiltshire
Are you a local lad born and bred in Wiltshire?
I’m not a Wiltshire lad but was born and went to a secondary modern in Oxford. I joined Barclays Bank eventually being posted to Swindon as a Senior Operations Manager responsible for 13 branches and 250 staff. In 1985 I was offered an Implementation Manager’s role for Project Eagle and although based in the London Head Office it involved working with the staff in the branches of Tunbridge Wells, Northampton, and Stockport to trial a new branch design. Much as branches are today with the counter service drastically reduced or non-existent , self-service promoted and back-office processing migrated to service centres. The effect of this was to reduce costs and release more staff to market the banks products. This project lasted five years setting the bar for a national roll out and the design being much copied by other banks. In 2000 I accepted voluntary early retirement from Barclays and was then approached by the Network Banking Section of the GPO in London for a two-year contract to establish the role of Client Manager working with three banks including Barclays.
How did you get into the reuse business?
After finishing with the Post Office, I saw a Project Manager’s role advertised online by Waste Not Want Not (WNWN). With the support of Green Square* WNWN was being set up as a small independent reuse charity to operate from an empty supermarket on the outskirts of Chippenham.
Once the lease formalities had been completed, I plunged into the world of reuse. Initially needing to be Jack of All Trades as fundraiser, recruiter of volunteers, van driver of an ancient transit van, decorator, and sales assistant. Thankfully The Prince’s Trust adopted WNWN as a community project to help with decorating and getting the premises fit for purpose. The ancient van did its most to try and destroy me with what seemed like a vendetta culminating in getting locked inside the back after a solo pick up. My freedom came after a period of panic grovelling around in the dark until I finally found a partly hidden door release. The time had arrived to recruit a volunteer van driver for the business!
How many staff and volunteers work at WNWN?
WNWN has a full-time project manager, a part time shop supervisor and on average, nine part time volunteers in any one week. For WNWN vans we use an outside company, this has improved customer / donor service times and the cost is comparable to WNWN running its own van and employing a driver.
Tell me about your crisis management and calls from the public.
In the business of reuse, and as a charity, we are often faced with clients that are in distressing situations.
In 2016 WNWN introduced its ‘Fresh Start Scheme’ (FSS) when local authorities and other organisations ceased to provide funding and low-cost loans to people in crisis.
Clients that qualify for FSS assistance normally move into an empty property after suffering extreme circumstances such as having fled domestic abuse, been previously homeless or are refugees from war torn countries. Many FSS clients have children. WNWN raises grants specifically for its Fresh Start scheme so that it can fund the provision of the essential household furniture and white goods required to turn an empty property into a home in which the FS clients can start to rebuild their lives.
All Fresh Start clients have their circumstances verified by independent organisation such as Fear-Less (formerly Splitz) Doorway, Alabare, Rise Trust and the local housing associations.
Sustainability for our precious fragile planet is important how does WNWN strive to achieve this?
We have noticed in the last few years at WNWN and especially because of Covid and the alarming rise in the cost of living, a sea change in the public perception of ’second- hand’. Reuse is now seen as a sensible alternative to buying new. It has become more fashionable and ok to buy vintage, retro or simply second-hand as a way of getting more for your money as well as protecting the environment.
WNWN offers 2 tier pricing with its lowest price being marked on goods and available to people with a household income below £35,000. Those above £35000 and wish to buy are asked to pay a premium of 40%. This helps support the charity and to many paying the higher price it still represents very good value.
Let’s talk about the established partnership with WNWN and the award-winning Wiltshire reuse charity KFR Kennet Furniture Refurbiz?
’’ … because no one should be without a bed to sleep on, a cooker to cook on or a sofa to sit on…’’ REUSE NETWORK 2019
WNWN has had a great working relationship with KFR for over 20 years. In the early years with the then chair Ken Brown and fundraiser Doug Western MBE. I have the greatest respect for the current general manager Dan Thompson. Dan has worked very hard to build and expand KFR into a successful self-funding enterprise. I appreciate Dan’s friendship and his willingness to share ideas and chat about any notable trends in the reuse world. Through its association with Furniture Box KFR provides WNWN with new goods at very realistic prices. This enables WNWN to achieve a markup whilst keeping these goods affordable to its low-income clients.
What is the biggest success lesson learnt in your business life?
After giving this some careful thought I think my biggest lesson from business life is that if you work as a team, you can achieve anything. With this mantra all things are possible; the team can pool resources and skills to bring about success, heads together can sort out issues and problems.
Finally – a couple of relaxing frivolous questions?
I am a keen bowler and a member of Westlecot Bowls Club, Old Town, Swindon – I enjoy playing competitively in the league games against other clubs.
Perhaps running is one of my greatest pleasures and relaxation. I run at least 2.5 kilometres daily, it’s a special time and my space to sort problems, enjoy the outdoors and return to home or office feeling more energised.
I’m not a foodie but a Marmite sandwich is definitely a favourite. This is where in the conversation the interviewer unexpectedly blinked!
Holidays and favourite places to visit?
Tenby Pembrokeshire. As a family we have had many happy holidays in this pretty town with its glorious beaches and spectacular landscape. There is a bowls club in the town with cheap drinks where over the years I have made many friends. The opportunities for running are endless.
How to Contact Phil:
- Phil Reade 303 Hungerdown Lane Chippenham Wiltshire SN14 OJJ T 01249 447140
- Registered charity 1089419
Juliet Singer firstname.lastname@example.org T 01390 720700
*Green Square Accord www.greensquarehomes.com