Arena Community took on the lease for the old Woolworth’s building on Bath Street, Ilkeston in late 2014. After receiving funding, the ground floor was refurbished and The Project opened for business in January 2017.
It consists of a retail area selling restored and shabby chic furniture, as well as ‘pre-loved’ clothing, soft furnishings, candles, and toiletries. There is also The Workshop Cafe, which sells delicious meals, snacks and drinks at an affordable price.
We are endeavouring to get funding to refurbish the first floor which we are planning to convert into an on-site workshop and classrooms. From here we will be able to train, educate and employ local people which will facilitate the furniture restoration programme and brings academic training in renovating, restoring and reinventing furniture that will be sold in the store.
Our aim at The Project is to connect and serve our community with a view to creating strong bonds whilst giving training and employment opportunities. Our trading hours our Monday to Saturday from 9am to 5pm; the Workshop Cafe is open 9am to 4pm.
For further information, please visit our website at www.theprojectilkeston.co.uk
My name is Lee and I work at The Project on Bath Street, Ilkeston, as the Furniture Restoration Manager. I oversee a team of volunteers and paid staff. I work on the first floor at The Project which is really the unseen department. On the ground floor we have our cafe and retail department that everybody knows, but there is much more happening behind the scenes.
In the department that I manage, we receive donations of furniture from various places within the public domain that we lovingly repair, sand, paint, polish, varnish and breathe new life into. This department originally started with just one person working on upcycling the furniture which we then sell in the shop. Over the past three years, we have increased our team, so we now have five people. We were able to offer one of our young volunteers, Luke, an apprenticeship which he has recently completed. We were then able to offer him a paid position.
Our most recent volunteers, David and Lynsey, approached us to get involved in the furniture restoration department and have brought real value to the team. Together their ideas have taken us in some new directions, from comic strip ideas to a pink and blue chest of drawers as shown in the photo.
Recently, we have “gone national” as we are selling items on the internet through eBay which means we are getting more coverage. We hope that by going into more avenues of potential sale platforms we are able to increase income so we can continue to operate successfully at this site and generate a profit that can be poured back into the community.
A high point for us was when a 1930s kitchen pantry that our team upcycled was purchased by the Props Department of The National Theatre to be used in an upcoming West End show. Who would have thought that an old kitchen unit would make it from the old Woolworths building in Ilkeston to the West End in London!
Every piece of furniture sold at The Project has a story; some don’t make it to the West End but just like the people that work or volunteer here that piece much like each person was or is loved by someone. Here at The Project we have a saying, “Everybody is a Somebody at The Project”. We believe there is more life in this furniture, and we believe there is more life, skill and gifting in the people in our community. At The Project, we believe that everything and every person deserves a second chance. We lovingly restore this furniture and we endeavour to lovingly serve you.
If you have any unwanted furniture you may wish to donate, please ring our Collection Department on 0115 9442996 option 2, Monday to Friday 9.30am to 3.45pm.