A Dundee charity supplying furniture and household goods to those in poverty could fold in a matter of weeks.
Lochee Community Group’s tenancy at the former Levi’s factory on Dunsinane Avenue is ending this month and the organisation is yet to find a new home.
The group says demand for its services has been “beyond imaginable” during the coronavirus pandemic and fears a vital safety net for hundreds will be lost.
As well as furniture and white goods, volunteers supply vital home packs, which include items such as crockery, bedding and curtains.
These items are often needed for individuals and families who have moved into emergency accommodation.
‘Such a shame’ if charity folds
Founder Alison Walker says she, alongside many volunteers, has spent years building the service.
She said: “The lease is up at the end of this month and, unfortunately, if we can’t find a suitable location by October 30, we will have to consider closing all together.
“After six years, that would be such a shame, not only for the people that benefit from using the service but also for our volunteers.
“For those in a desperate situation, they need furniture for free or at a very low cost, and we can help with that.”
Despite high demand, the group has had to undergo a “massive downsizing”, according to Ms Walker.
It saw the group permanently close its shop in the centre of Lochee due to financial constraints last year.
Ms Walker says Dundee City Council has not done enough to help save the service.
Group can ‘help boost recycling rates’
She said: “If the council had taken more interest in us, people would have a route to get recycled goods.
“Considering the big push to get recycling rates up, why are we not being supported?
“We want the council to have a serious look at homewares recycling. They haven’t really helped us.”
The group has transferred stock to another property on Forest Park Road for the time being.
It is also renting a small unit on Marybank Lane from Dundee City Council to house some of the goods but it is not big enough to operate from or store beds and wardrobes.
It also costs over £11,000 a year to rent whereas the Dunsinane Avenue building, which has been sold, was given to them rent free, allowing the previous owner Aydya to save on rates.
A spokesperson for Dundee City Council said: “The council has been providing the group with interim accommodation since the lease was ended on their former property by the previous landlord.
“We are continuing to meet with them to offer support where appropriate.”
New buyer for Dunsinane Avenue premises
In February, news it would be sold created panic for many groups and charities who operated from the site.
Many of the smaller groups have already left.
A rescue bid by the Tayside Furniture Re-use Network (TFRN) to set up a ‘charity hub’ at the site was dropped because the building is no longer being sold to Sangobeg.
The new buyer has not been publicly named.
Meanwhile another charity which uses the same premises is hopeful it will secure a temporary home for the six months.
Charity’s bid for Mitchell Street centre
Faisal Hussein, CEO of Yusuf Youth Initiative, says the organisation is however still seeking a permanent home.
He said: “We need to secure somewhere for six months to keep us going.
“If all goes well, we will have somewhere from the end of September but that won’t be permanent.
“We have registered a bid for Dundee City Council’s Mitchell Street property and have been given a date in early February for a decision on whether we will get it.”