Beautifully upcycled furniture for your home, from someone without one

RENU was our furniture upcycling project that we ran for 5 years initially in Trafford and then at The Message Enterprise Centre in Sharston. RENU worked with individuals who had maybe worked in the past but had hit a hard time and fallen into homelessness. RENU helped people to increase their skills and confidence to move back into employment or training.

Over 5 years 50 people accessed the project and 15 moved on into further training or employment.

How it worked

We started with a piece of unwanted, shabby-without-the-chic furniture, and we gave our friends the skills to upcycle it. At RENU, not only did our students have the chance to be creative, but we gave them a safe space to work, gain confidence and employability skills. This gave them genuine employment opportunities, as well as a chance to talk to someone who listen. When you’ve been sleeping on the streets of Manchester these were life changing opportunities and it was humbling to see the transformation at the end.

 “I've never been told that I'm really good at something that I've never done before.”

— James Hague

Who did we help:

We helped people like:

D came to us when he was rough sleeping in Manchester, after talking to him about his interests he started to attend ReNu. 

It was like a light bulb had been switched on when he came to ReNu, he lit up when he was working on the furniture and started to smile and engage with the group, he was a fast learner and developed amazing sanding skills and progressed to working on the most intricate items of furniture . He excelled at our ReNu course attending 3 days a week for 10 weeks. He always said that he considered ReNu as a work place and was motivated to attend as if it were his job. When he was focusing on the furniture he felt calm as this helped him forget his problems.

D soon began to bring other homeless friends along and became a peer mentor, encouraging and inspiring others to do well. During this time we moved Darren on from hostel accommodation into one of our tenancies through our resettlement team we also helped him with his CV and enrolled him on a course for his security badge. RENU gave him the confidence to apply for work and has helped to prepare him for the workplace. Last week we heard the amazing news that he has just secured a job offer, for a role which received over 1700 applicants. We are so proud of everything D has done and can't wait to see where he will go next.

Whats next:

We have handed the project over to Emmaus South Manchester, who will re-open RENU as a furniture upcycling social enterprise in July 2020. We are so pleased that the project will continue as part of a wider project for South Manchester and Wythenshawe in particular. You can check out for more details.

For us at Barnabus we are deeply committed to the work at our Drop in Centre, The Beacon, on Bloom Street and we have some exciting new projects to launch throughout 2020. In our response to the changing landscape of homelessness we are focusing our work on those who have complex challenges in their lives and are often still rough sleeping in our city centre.