The Covid-19 lockdown created many challenges for third sector organisations across Scotland and our members have responded strongly and admirably to the crisis.  Despite facing an almost overnight loss of trading income many community reuse and recycling organisations have been pivoting their efforts to support those in their communities who were isolated or were particularly vulnerable during the lockdown.

In this new series of Lockdown Conversations, our CEO, Michael Cook, speaks to some CRNS members about how they have been supporting their communities through this difficult time.

In this our fifth video, Michael talks to Fiona Gilbert from Remake Scotland about how they have served their community in Crieff and the surrounding area.

What was the impact of Covid-19 on your organisation?

Remake Scotland is a community reuse organisation who prevent many valuable resources from going to landfill whilst supporting their local community. When the lockdown began they were forced to close their doors which they found really difficult – for staff, members and the volunteers who support the charity and are in turn supported back.

How did you respond to the needs of your community?

One of the first projects which began was “NHS For the Love of Scrubs” which quickly engaged several volunteers to use a wide range of reuse materials to make over 250 sets of scrubs for key workers. As well as providing PPE to those who needed it, it also enabled volunteers to work together and give something back during the crisis.

Similarly, staff from the shop became volunteers to support the local Co-op and delivered food and other essentials items using the Remake Scotland van. They also responded to the local food bank to set up a voucher scheme for essential homewares to be given to those who needed it.

Remake Scotland were asked by the National Lottery to become an anchor organisation to distribute funds to local organisations and causes.  They already had some experience in distributing funds via their own “Pass It On” fund.  They quickly built on this to set up their own application form and processes.  So far they have distributed £56k to prevent hardship on the back of the Covid-19 lockdown.

How have Remake Scotland cared for the environment during this time?

Remake Scotland already worked in partnership with the local council to run a reuse container at the local recycling centre.  When other organisations stopped taking donations they were inundated with donations.  Some of these items went to the new tool library, others were sold at a local pop-up market.

Whether people were borrowing items from the library or buying them second-hand the carbon footprint was massively reduced over buying new.  These items came from the local community and were going back to the local community.

If Fiona could make one ask of policy makers?

We asked Fiona what she would ask for if she had one policy ask.  Fiona would love to see local authorities consider the circular economy as the first choice their decisions and in particular always consider purchasing reuse as part of their procurement decisions.

At CRNS our Reuse Consortium is designed to help local authorities purchase reuse and this is something we will be looking at in the next lockdown conversation.