FRC Group: Furniture Resource Centre


Liverpool is a city of nearly half a million people. Throughout the 1980s it lost a substantial amount of its manufacturing base leading to high levels of unemployment and poverty. The housing stock also suffered serious decline in this period and there was a concurrent rise in levels of crime, drugs and ill health. 

The shift from grants to loans in the UK government’s Social Fund in the 1980’s made it more difficult for local people to obtain payment for necessary household articles. Recognising the impact on the quality of everyday life, a partnership of churches in Liverpool came together to tackle this issue.
In 1988, the Furniture Resource Centre was a project with a staff of 4 supported by volunteers. It supplied donated white goods and furniture items directly to people who needed them. In 20 years Furniture Resource Centre has grown into a nationally and internationally recognised exemplar of social enterprise.
Furniture Resource Centre today delivers a ‘one-stop’ service of complete packages of furniture, white goods, carpets, curtains and home-starter items. In 2007/08 we made over 4,000 deliveries across the UK. The goods we deliver enable our customers (registered social landlords, local authorities, charities etc.) to provide homes for, or to improve the homes of, their tenants.
Furniture Resource Centre has won a number of significant contracts to supply furniture to this market, including preferred supplier to Procurement for Housing, a collective procurement organisation representing more than 600 Housing Associations.
The work of the Furniture Resource Centre has expanded since 1994. FRC Group is now a group of social businesses (including Furniture Resource Centre) addressing issues of poverty, unemployment and social exclusion. Furniture Resource Centre has grown from a project with a turnover of £89k in 1988/89 (80% of which came from grants) to a group of social businesses with a turnover of £3.3m in 2006/07 (7% of which came from grants).
Other businesses within FRC Group are:
  • Bulky Bob’s – collecting and recycling bulky household waste (furniture and white goods) under contract to local authorities. Since 2000, Bulky Bob’s has made more than 400,000 collections and saved 290,000 items from going to landfill sites.
  • Revive – selling ‘pre-loved’ furniture and white goods in a high quality retail environment, marketed to low-income households - more than 20,000 low-income customers since 2000.
  • Cat’s Pyjamas – a joint venture with Urban Strategy Associates, providing consultancy and learning opportunities around social enterprise
  • FRC Solutions – consultancy and dissemination of learning and experience
The development of the ‘Bulky Bob’s’ strand was particularly significant as it allowed the project to build up the amount of furniture it collected, to earn income from doing so, and to ensure that this valuable community resource is available to people who need it.
Providing training which can turn people’s lives around is at the core of FRC Group. Since 2000, more than 200 people have taken part in our “Driving Change” training programme, gaining experience and qualifications relevant to employment in the logistics industry. Since 2004, 94% of those who completed the programme have gone into sustainable employment.
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If you would like anymore information feel free to contact Verity Timmins, Impact Manager

  FRC Group  |  Unit 12 - 14 Atlantic Way  |  Brunswick Business Park  |  Liverpool L3 4BE

0151 702 0550