RESTORING furniture in Bognor Regis has helped volunteer Teresa Wordell restore her life.
Teresa has spent seven months re-upholstering donated furniture and general customer service duties at the Stonepillow Revive outlet run by the charity in the High Street. She credits that time with helping her to get a paid job, as a retail customer service assistant, for the first time in more than ten years.
“I have learned so much from Stonepillow. They have given so much fantastic support to me here. It’s thanks to the people here I have got my confidence back,” she said.
“Getting another job has made a big difference to me. It has given me belief in myself and allows me to pay my bills.”
Town resident Teresa, 54, was among the guests at last Thursday’s official opening of the shop and training centre by Shelagh Legrave, OBE, who chairs Stonepillow’s trustees, and the charity’s patron, Bognor Regis town mayor, Cllr Pat Dillon
Teresa was one of the first to offer her services after Revive opened last August. She wanted to make good use of the upholstery skills she taught herself when her children were young and her household furniture needed updating.
She uses that talent to show Stonepillow’s homeless clients how to make the donated chairs, sofas and stools as good as new.
“Improving the furniture is really important. It makes it more appealing for someone to look at and get their attention. If something is a bit tatty, they walk past,” she said.
Teresa helps out at least one day a week.
The growing reputation of the shop and training centre means life is getting busier for the 20 helpers and clients who turn its donations into must-have furniture to raise money for Stonepillow’s work with homeless people.
Revive manager Maria Browning, one of two paid members of staff, said its aim was to help those without a home to move forward in their lives.
“Most of the clients are in our supported accommodation and a few come from our night shelters. We also hold IT workshops once a week as well as our workshops where we restore and revive furniture.
“We want to get the people who come here healthy, housed and into work. That’s what Revive is here to do – to get people back to an acceptable lifestyle. They can then look after themselves and become employed.”
She described the homeless situation around Bognor Regis as ‘stable’ and said the biggest cause of a person being on the streets was relationship breakdowns followed by redundancy. This was far removed from the once-common image of a person without an address.
“I really think for a lot of people the stigma of homeless people being alcoholics or drug addicts is going. People are realising they are just normal people,” she added.