Coventry-based social enterprise Coventry Recycling of Waste, which provides volunteering opportunities for young people and adults with learning difficulties or disabilities, has been awarded £1,500 from the WPH Charitable Trust.

The enterprise, better known as CROW Recycling, will use the money towards its £60,000 annual running costs to create opportunities for people who may otherwise find it difficult to find employment.

CROW works with a number of local schools and agencies to recruit volunteers.

While school-age youngsters come to the organisation in the short term – for example one or two weeks of work experience placements – the majority of adults tend to stay long term.

Barbara Cowling, Centre Manager, said the safe, friendly environment offered by CROW gives volunteers the chance to learn new skills, make new friends and build their confidence while serving a useful purpose.

From its early years when CROW was launched in 1985, the organisation worked closely with Coventry Social Services to provide placements.

Originally based at the Barras Heath market in Coventry, where the city council housed the charity for free for several years, CROW was forced to move in 2000 when the market closed down.

Since then it has operated out of Sparkbrook Street in Hillfields - a central location purchased courtesy of the National Lottery Charities Board. Half its running costs come through the recycling arm of the organisation while the other half is raised through donations from local businesses and organisations such as WPH Charitable Trust.

Barbara said: “Launched by the Elfrida Rathbone Society CROW Recycling started before recycling was a big thing. The city council had started operating glass bottle banks and was looking at launching a can recycling scheme, which we were also doing. So we teamed up and the council offered us free rent for the first year on a warehouse on the Barras Heath market.”

The recycling scheme was well supported in Coventry during that first year and CROW was running all the can banks in the city.

Over time CROW has continued to grow and expand its services and today offers a can collection service from businesses and schools as well as a paper collection and shredding service.

It also sells bales of high quality shredded paper which are often used as animal bedding or packing material.

Barbara said: “We can take up to 20 volunteers at any one time. Those who come to us may have mental health problems or learning disabilities, physical disabilities maybe. But once we’ve collected the materials we teach them to sort and partially process the goods which we then sell on to merchants for the final stage of recycling.

“Our volunteers are great. They are not paid as such but we do give them a daily allowance and they can come to us as little or as often as they like – whether one day a week or five.”

Seventy-year-old John Gatter has been a volunteer with CROW for 25 years.

Born a happy, healthy boy, John’s life was changed in an instant when he was run over by a truck while out playing with a friend.

The accident resulted in a six-month stay in hospital and John was left with life-changing injuries including brain damage.

John, who is single and lives in Foleshill, said: “I like it here at CROW. I have made lots of friends here. If I stayed at home my mind wouldn’t be so active.

“I’d like to keep coming here for as long as CROW will have me.”

For further details log on to www.warwickshirehealthcharity.org.uk

Alternatively, applications can be sent by post to: Secretary to the WPH Charitable Trust, c/o Blythe Liggins, Edmund House, Rugby Road, Leamington Spa, CV32 6EL.

John at Crow Recycling WPH

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