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The Swindon charity changing the lives of thousands

Olivia McCann CEO of Swindon Children's Scrapstore

FEW people are aware of the sheer scope of Swindon Children’s Scrapstore’s work.

Scrappers Gym, which won a Persimmon Homes funding contest, is only one of its projects.

“You’d be surprised how many people don’t know we exist, even though we’ve been going since 1985,” “It’s always been that way and that’s why I work to promote the Scrapstore as much as possible. “People can benefit enormously from the projects and services we have to offer, and we want them to know about it so they can come and benefit from it – collect resources or get something at low cost. “The Scrapstore was set up in 1985 by Friends of the Earth, originally started in a school cupboard and has grown over the years since then. Olivia joined Scrapstore in 2001.

Olivia previously worked for a firm which sold concrete and stone. Following a bereavement, she decided she needed a change. The Scrapstore was then at the Pinehurst People’s Centre. “I got the job and I’ve been here ever since. “The charity and all of the projects have evolved year-on year, depending on funding streams. Some are cut; you have to adapt and survive. “We’ve had to relocate five times in the last 10 years, so we are fundraising at the moment to purchase a building. “I’ve been running the charity for 18 years so far, and my goal is that by the time we get to 20 years we’ll have enough to purchase our own building and make is sustainable.”

The charity has been at its current location, in Bramble Close on the Elgin Industrial Estate, for three years. Olivia said: “The Scrapstore Resource Centre is the original project at the core of what we do. “That is where local businesses or local people who are having a clear-out and have items that are clean, redundant and reusable can donate them to us. “We then make the available to local schools, community groups, childminders, colleges and individuals for reuse in education, recreational play or art and craft projects. “It’s basically diverting from landfill back into reuse to benefit the local community – it’s saving the environment as well as helping local people with resources they otherwise wouldn’t be able to find or wouldn’t be able to purchase. “What we try and do is make everything affordable, so as many people as possible can benefit from what we do. “The second project that we set up was the arts and crafts shop, which sells glue, paint, glitter, card, all kinds of arts and crafts materials to supplement the items we have donated. “We buy them in a cheap as possible so customers are getting the best price possible. We also get items donated by crafters which we put out and ask for a donation.” Another project, the community Re-Paint scheme, collects unused household paint from major suppliers and sells it at £2 per litre.

Scrapstore has projects which reuse everything from office supplies to tablets and mobile phones, and from household goods to toys and clothes.

Scrappers Gym, founded in 2011, is a welcome lifeline for people - especially young people - who would not otherwise be able to afford a gym. Donations of £3 per session for under-16s and £4 for older clients are requested, but nobody is turned away. The charity welcomes donations of items for any of its projects in addition to financial help, and also likes to hear from potential volunteers. Many of those volunteers find their Scrapstore experience opens doors to career and education options which might otherwise have remained closed. “Tell your friends about us,” said Olivia. “Let them know that this charity is here to benefit you – come along and see how we can actually help you. “Maybe in return you might be able to help us, which would be fantastic!” Full details of all Scrapstore projects, what they can do and what people can do for them can be found at

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