STAFF at a recycling shop in Newent are offering creative solutions to those who are feeling the pinch amid the rising cost of living by “breathing new life” into their unwanted items.

The Recycling Shop, located on Sheppard Way in the town, sells donated items that needn’t go to waste for discount prices, with a focus on preventing usable goods going to landfill.

Run by Penny Mail, along with team members Emily Hayes and Jo Royce, the shop sells a range of goods from kitchen wares, furniture and garden ornaments to toys, clothing and electrical items.

Initially founded four years ago, Penny took over and established it as a Community Interest Company in 2020.

And thanks to the hard work and creativity of the team, the company has since branched out into running two more initiatives - on-site community space The Hive and education resource arm RR4ED.

Penny says they have aimed to strike a balance in the shop between sustaining the business and providing value for money for their customers amid rising inflation.

To achieve this, the shop is selling items that may need repair - and may otherwise go in the bin - for bargain prices, alongside their regular low-priced stock.

“Prices for everybody are rising, so we’re trying to be mindful that while our prices are rising, some people come here because it’s an affordable solution for them”, Penny said.

She added that as the shop is for the community, it is a place that people often come just to sit and chat, helping to ease feelings of loneliness and isolation.

The team also work with local organisations to support those in need, such as The Lord’s Larder Foodbank and Newent Rotary Club, who have helped transport aid to Ukraine following the outbreak of war in February.

Penny commented: “We sent all the sleeping bags we had as soon as the war started, it just seemed wrong to be selling them.”

A range of other groups and businesses also look to the shop for supplies, including a local adventure centre which purchased second hand board games for their visitors.

They also help to furnish accommodation for people in emotional, physical or financial difficulty, such as victims of domestic abuse.

Also located on site is The Hive - a vibrant community space inspired by the shop’s re-use ethos.

The team offer craft classes for the community at the venue, including those in which people are taught how to breath new life into their unwanted items.

Local artists teach community classes there, and it has also been used for meetings for local charities and even as a practice space for a local band.

The third arm of the company is RR4ED (Recycling Resources for Education), in which donated items that aren’t suitable for the shop are up-cycled by early years teacher Jo to be sold online and to schools.

Items like chopping boards, curtain hooks and board games with pieces missing have been revamped by Jo into resources to be used for education, such as maths games.

She explained: “I started volunteering here with Penny and saw all these bits that didn’t have a purpose, and I thought that for education, where budgets are tight, they would be gold dust.”

Jo’s creations have developed a strong following online, and she also recently recorded a podcast for educational advisers about RR4ED.

The team are also passionate about offering employment opportunities to local people, with the town’s transport links limited following recent cuts to bus services.

“The shop exists to reduce waste and build community, and one of the ways we’re doing that is that most people who work here are paid.

“We live in a time when there are no buses for people to get anywhere, if you live in Newent you can get to Gloucester and that’s it.

“So being able to create jobs in the town that we live is really important, but we also aim to build community in other ways, through things like The Hive.”

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