1999 Delivering from Bennett’s Hill
1999 Furniture Repairs, Bennett’s Hill
Roundabout celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2014. Below is a summary of the history of the organisation from its beginning in 1994.
Roundabout started life in a very modest form known as the Vale Volunteer Furniture Project. The initiative was set up in 1994 by members of the Evesham Volunteer Centre. Volunteers operated from small premises at the rear of what is now the Bridge Garage at Greenhill, Evesham. From this warehouse, donated furniture was collected and distributed to those in need. For one day each week, a van was hired and the deliveries and collections took place.
As the project became established the demand for furniture began to grow and it became clear that things could not continue as they were. Finances were tight and it was apparent that someone was needed as a permanent organiser. In 1996 Eric Mitchell was appointed as the Organiser.
In the interim the project had moved from Greenhill to Hampton and by 1998 was based at Bennett’s Hill, Offenham. The organisation now had its own Luton van. The van had previously been owned by the BBC and had a claim to fame that it had moved some scenery and equipment connected with the television series Eastenders. The vehicle can still be seen in the area, it is minus its box and is now a pick-up truck moving vegetables for a local grower.
Throughout this period, finding sufficient funds to ensure the survival of the project was a constant concern. Many large charities were approached to provide funding, and where it was forthcoming it was often at the expense of a large number of individually tailored applications that had been refused or ignored.
In June 1999, Eric retired and was replaced by Bob Pooler, who was appointed Manager.
At this time the project was still considered to be an extension of the Evesham Volunteer Centre. However, the Furniture Project was developing a life of its own. It was growing in size and the dozen or so volunteers were increasing in number.
By 2000 the project had moved to Wickhamford to take over a 3,500 square feet warehouse. With the aid of a donation from a local newspaper the Furniture Centre was able to replace its ancient BBC van with a newer vehicle which was twelve years younger.
Each year the operation began to grow steadily with more volunteers joining and the operating area extending to service an ever increasing demand.
In April, 2001 Roundabout became a registered charity in its own right.
As Roundabout continued to develop, it outgrew the warehouse at Wickhamford and it became necessary to search for larger premises. At this time the Blackminster Business Park was in the early stages of development and a warehouse on the site was identified as being suitable. This warehouse was 8,300 square feet in area and there was considerable soul searching whilst trying to decide whether this was a step too far for the charity’s finances.
In 2003 Roundabout took the plunge and moved to Blackminster. A philanthropic large charity provided some much needed finance over three years, and subsequently was able to donate a second van from a failed charity that it had been supporting.
In March 2004 Roundabout became a private company, limited by guarantee with no share capital.
Since being at Blackminster the charity has continued to thrive and in September 2012 took on a further warehouse on the site.
Roundabout now employs four members of staff and benefits from the services of more than fifty volunteers. It currently operates, using three vehicles, to cover a large part of Worcestershire and parts of Gloucestershire and Warwickshire.
As the charity has grown it has developed working relationships with many business organisations as well as with County Councils.
Roundabout is now self sufficient and looks forward to a period of steady growth.