Birmingham PlayCare Network

348hf 04aBirmingham PlayCare Network is a play association that has been operating since 1995. We are a voluntary organisation working across Birmingham. In 2011 BPCN set up a scrapstore, which collects safe, surplus clean business waste materials.

These materials are used to create innovative play spaces, encourage individuals to acknowledge reuse as well as being used for upcycling projects.

This store is predominately accessed by the childcare sector; however, we also offer materials to artists, students, community groups, parents and families, retirement homes and day centres. The aim of ‘The Scrapstore Birmingham’ is to provide affordable resources, whilst also contributing to waste reduction.

The main objective of The Scrapstore is to help businesses to reduce waste, save money, make links with the local community, provide cheap resources, and ultimately help the environment. By doing this The Scrapstore has aimed to benefit a number of different groups.

Local children benefit as the waste is re-used by childcare establishments, play schemes, and parents within loose parts play, and also for arts and crafts activities.

Local businesses benefit not only due to having waste removed for free, but also as their donations may be used as a direct contribution to their corporate and social responsibility commitment.

348hf 04b348hf 04c348hf 04dIn 2013 ScrapstoresUK changed its name to ReusefulUK. This group acts as an umbrella network for over 79 scrapstores across the United Kingdom. Each one of these scrapstores collects, clean and safe waste, and surplus products, from industry and retail. This is then sorted, before being made available to members and customers.

The scrapstore encourages communities to consider reused items, rather than only buying new, for a variety of projects, environments, arts based activities. Resources from our scrapstore are accessed at a reduced cost (child minders pay £4 for a large sack of resources of all varieties mentioned above).

It also encourages local businesses to donate their surplus or ‘waste’ items (e.g. packaging) rather than sending to landfill. In 2013 we collected around 35 tonnes of scrap and redistributed it through our store. This resulted in ‘The Birmingham Scrapstore’ being awarded as Birmingham’s ‘Best Waste Reduction Scheme’ for 2013, and being highly commended in the ‘Best Reuse Scheme’ category.

348hf 04e348hf 04fA large number of people are involved in The Scrapstore scheme; from children who use resources, to factory workers who help sort resources, ready for donation. Not only does Birmingham PlayCare Networks staff facilitate The Scrapstore, but also volunteers.

Alongside this are the donors, who currently include BMW Plant Hams Hall, IKEA Wednesbury, Tarpaulin Supply & Repair Co Ltd, Britannia Fabrics, Media Venture Birmingham, Opal Contracts UK Ltd, and Ramfoam Ltd. Birmingham PlayCare Network currently has over 200 members who benefit from being able to access cheap resources. This then involves all the children and play workers who benefit from the use of these resources.

The Scrapstore also financially helps all people involved. The main beneficiaries of this are local businesses, who save on the costs of waste removal. Typical removal costs are at a minimum £30, or for a full van almost £200. It is therefore very clear the savings that have been made. Members also make a financial saving. The current costs of resources are rising rapidly. For a childminder to become a member of BPCN they can collect resources for as little as £8.33 per month. A large primary or secondary school could also collect resources for only £20.83 per month. Therefore it is clear there is an opportunity for large financial saving. These financial savings are made possible through BPCN collecting and re-using over 35 tonnes of scrap, which would otherwise go to landfill.

For us at BPCN, as a play association, the materials that are donated are perfect for what we call ‘loose parts’ to support children’s play. Children that are able to play with a variety of materials are proved to be much more creative thinkers, problem solvers and develop more brain matter than children that only have access to toys or resources that only have one purpose.

For example – how much fun do children have playing with the cardboard box that the new toy comes in, rather than the actual toy itself.

Combining all of these missions helps The Birmingham Scrapstore try to achieve its ultimate goal, of less waste reaching landfill, and more children playing creatively.

If you are interested in accessing The Birmingham Scrapstore you can contact us on 0121 236 2917, or email at bpcn@bpcn.org.uk. We can also be found on facebook, by searching for ‘The Scrapstore Birmingham’.

We would also like to hear from anyone interested in donating to the scrapstore. We are always looking for new donors, and love to have a wide variety of stock.

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