“The Wombles of Welwyn Garden City are we”… Those lovable inhabitants of Wimbledon Common, who used to collect and re-use ‘the things that folk left behind’, have paved the way for a new breed of community recycling centre, where the only limit is a child’s imagination.
Forming an integral part of the Connect Club Charity, who exist to support adults with long-term mental health problems, the WOT-EVER Scrap Store has inspired Welwyn & Hatfield residents, both young and old, to get involved, since it opened in November 2004.
From attractive ribbons to coloured paper, artificial flowers to shiny foil, local industries and businesses are donating safe and clean waste materials, which would normally go to landfill sites, to the recycling centre. In return for a small annual fee, local schools, play and youth groups and parents with young children, then have an open invitation to help themselves to creative materials whenever they want to.
The project is run by volunteers with mental health illnesses. Charity Founder Olwyn Buchta aims to ensure that, as well as encouraging the artistic nature of the next generation, Wot-ever is giving mentally challenged adults the opportunity to learn new skills and strengthen their mental abilities through social interaction, community stimulation and helping others.
At the beginning mail shots played a big part in publicising the store, and local outlets were contacted to ask for donations. In November 2005 the Wot-Ever contacted Chris Storey, who runs DOR-2-DOR Welwyn branch to discuss leaflet distribution. Inspired by the work of the charity, Chris decided to take them under his wing and donated a delivery of 10,000 leaflets.
The response was tremendous. The raised awareness attracted more volunteers and sales staff, numerous donations and increased patronage to the re-cycling centre and the Connect Club’s two other charitable trading arms, Wot-Nots and Etcetera. In the summer of 2006 they gained six new volunteers.
This brilliant charity concept, and the dedicated people behind it, has reduced the stigma surrounding mental health. By ‘making good use of the things that they find’, (just like the cartoon characters the younger generation are too young to remember but which their parents remember fondly), they have motivated businesses to re-cycle waste and helped local children express themselves.
Jackie Taverner said:
“DOR-2-DOR have been absolutely fantastic, really helpful and supportive and provided us with a really good service.”