FurniCare to close in Chard

This is The West Country: FURNICARE'S base in Chard, which will close in the New Year. FURNICARE'S base in Chard, which will close in the New Year.

A PIONEERING furniture reuse project which has helped thousands of people on low incomes in Chard will close at the end of January.

FurniCare, which has an outlet in Boden Street, was the original furniture recycling facility in Somerset, set up 21 years ago.

It collects donated furniture from people who no longer need it and sells it at low price to those who are most in need, with proceeds from sales funding the operation.

South Somerset Association for Voluntary and Community Action (SSVCA), the charity which runs it, has taken the decision after consulting with staff who work at the outlets in both Chard and Yeovil.

The closure will affect six staff but it is not yet clear whether they will lose their jobs, as options for taking on other roles within SSVCA are being explored.

Meanwhile, trustees of the charity say they are refocusing their efforts into improving the Yeovil branch.

Nigel Engert, chair of SSVCA trustees, told the News: “It has been a difficult time for our staff while we have been reviewing the best way of providing a furniture reuse service to the residents of South Somerset.

“The decision to close FurniCare Chard will sadly result in the deletion of six posts but we are currently working with our colleagues to look at what other opportunities may exist within SSVCA for any staff affected by the decision.

“Although this has been a really challenging time the organisation is looking forward to working on its new plans for the operation and delivering a bigger, more comprehensive, service operating from Yeovil.”

Both FurniCare Chard and Yeovil will be closed for the Christmas period from December 18 and 19 respectively and a grand sale will run from January 6 until the end of the month.

Cllr Jill Shortland, who represents Chard South on Somerset County Council, said: “I am saddened but not surprised.

“We are in difficult times and people are not replacing furniture – they tend to sell rather than hand over their used furniture; they can’t afford to do otherwise.

“This is when people are most in need of furniture, but if there aren’t the goods available, you do have to restrict the number of outlets.

“Charities are suffering in the same way many businesses are at the minute.

“Losing the Chard base means people will have to travel by bus, or find some other way to get to Yeovil or Taunton.

“Sadly, I think most will go to Taunton because that’s where they sign on, so FurniCare will lose out on custom.

“I do hope at some point there will be the ability for people who are in need to access these services in Chard – it opened here in the first place because there was a need for it.

“I would also appeal to FurniCare to stay open until December 20 so people who need anything before Christmas have more chance to get it.”

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