Wandsworth Oasis / Rainbow Rising / South Thames College

A great partnership, a great story

CRA member, Wandsworth Oasis – a charity raising funds for people living with HIV – had a problem. Like so many of our members, as reopening of shops loomed in mid-June, they were concerned about the huge influx of donations that they were likely to receive. Where to put them? What to do with them? Their shops were already full to bursting….

Step forward Temporary Use Aid, a charity that helps transform unused spaces for good causes with their project Rainbow Rising, which aims to do something positive with the increased amount of empty shop space that large-scale retail closures have brought about. Rainbow Rising found Oasis some space in the ex-Argos store in Southside shopping centre in Wandsworth, South West London. This actually enabled them to continue collecting furniture and other items during the lockdown.

South Thames College also had a problem – how to train unemployed adults with practical and business skills that they can use to find employment or set up their own business?

Step forward Wandsworth Oasis! Working with Rainbow Rising to find yet more space – this time in the ex-Debenhams store in the same centre – they saw a way to raise funds as well provide some opportunities for South Thames College’s students. The idea was to upcycle some of the second-hand furniture they had been donated to avoid adding more waste to landfill and to create beautiful, inspirational new items. South Thames have been recruiting young, unemployed people and training them in the upholstery skills they need to breathe new life into second-hand furniture. They will learn how to set up a business and be helped to make a first step towards a new career, and receive a Level 2 qualification into the bargain.

All of the upcycled pieces will be for sale at reasonable prices with Oasis. So Oasis now have a lovely showroom space in Debenhams selling donated furniture, books, accessories, household items, electricals, gifts and toys as well as a great project helping adults in the neighbourhood.

What a great collaboration! Win-win all round. Many congratulations to Oasis, Rainbow Rising and South Thames College for obvious evidence of how partnerships can be more than the sum of their parts.