Thumbs up as COPE unveils new van and welfare facilities

SOCIAL enterprise COPE Ltd. has unveiled a new van and essential welfare facilities to improve its home and garden services.

The two developments were funded partly by a £40,692 grant from the Coastal Communities Fund, which the organisation received in early 2021.

The new Shetland Home Co van can be seen out and about all over the Shetland mainland, sporting an eye-catching new livery designed by local company Mascot.

The van is used to offer a collection service for those wishing to donate large items of furniture and can also arrange to deliver items purchased from its Revolve-certified second-hand store.

One of the aims is to offer easy access to affordable, quality second-hand homeware and electrical across the isles, saving as much as possible from landfill through both reuse and recycling.

Angus Morrison, van driver and one of COPE’s supported employees, said: “It’s great to have the new van. It’s much better and more efficient than the one we used to have. It means we can help a lot more folk who need to have a clear-out or to get the furniture they need.”

The second project covered by the grant is a new portable cabin within Shetland Garden Co’s business area, providing a much-needed welfare hub and toilet facilities for staff and participants working in COPE’s garden centre. Given the challenging climate, a dedicated indoor space will be a great benefit to the business unit.

Participant Aiden Ward, who has been coming to COPE for skills development sessions for several years, said he really enjoyed working in the garden and “it’s so much better now that we have a warm, dry place to get changed and take our breaks”.

Team leader Dawna Ward said COPE had separated out its various businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic so it made sense to have their own tea-room, toilet and boot room facilities. It provides a space for participants to do quiet work and “especially in this terrible weather it’s been a Godsend”.

Stevie Naulls pictured with the new COPE collection and delivery van. Photo: Shetland News.

Participants and support workers were in high spirits as COPE hosted a launch event with refreshments at the Port Business Park on Wednesday afternoon.

In an impromptu short speech, participant Gina Leslie was all smiles as she described the facilities – which she has nicknamed the “garden oasis” – as “first class” and said she rated the new setup “ten out of ten”.

Business manager for COPE’s home and garden areas, Derek Hart, said it was “great to have the new van on the road”.

“it is a key part of how we connect with the local community to provide the services we offer,” he said.

“The new garden facilities are a vast improvement. The work COPE does is very much about the social connections that are part of everyone’s working life, so having a clean, dry space to come into in the Garden Co was absolutely necessary.”

Hart thanked the Coastal Communities Fund for its support along with NorthLink Ferries for transporting the van free of charge, and local businesses involved including Irvine contractors, Robertson & Peterson, S. Malcolmson Plant Ltd and Mascot.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “We so often find the companies we work with going above and beyond. We’re really grateful for that generosity and support. It is [a] crucial part of what keeps COPE going.”

COPE, founded in 1998, is a social enterprise and registered charity offering skills development to adults living with learning disabilities or autism. It also provides employment opportunities across its home, garden, kitchen and soap-producing business units.

Shetland News