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NRAs 2017: Waste Prevention Award - Public Sector

WINNER: 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

The ‘Shabby Chic’ project was started two years ago by two activity co-ordinators who each had a personal interest in reusing and restoring furniture from the trust’s mental health inpatient wards in Warrington.

They select old items of furniture from the trust’s second-hand furniture store and work on restoring the items during therapy activity sessions with patients, teaching them refurbishment skills. When they have a stock of around 20 to 30 finished items, they arrange a display in a public space in the hospital followed by an auction day. This is open to everyone to bid and the highest bid wins the bespoke piece of furniture.

The project brings waste prevention into the minds of ward staff and the wider hospital community. Previously, unwanted furniture was a costly burden on facilities to dispose of, and was forgotten by staff once it was out of their space. Now facilities staff intercept items they think the project could use. What was a waste is an asset, a raw material and a tool for therapy.

JUDGES’ COMMENT: “This is an impressive, self-driven, socially engaging, skills-enhancing programme that has massive potential to save waste throughout this and other hospitals and deal with skills, engagement and reuse.”


The upcycling is carried out on the ward and the only cost is for materials such as paint and fabrics. Each of the two wards involved initially donated £100 to buy set-up materials.

After the first cycle was complete, this donation was put back into the ward using money raised from the auction, and the project is now self-funding and generating an income. Any profits go back into the ward’s charitable funds pot to buy materials for other patient activities.

As well as providing a relaxing, therapeutic and creative activity that develops new skills, the project gives patients a sense of achievement in restoring value to items. One of the most positive success stories is of a patient who was discharged from the ward and has now returned as a volunteer to help others participating in the project.

‘Shabby Chic’ has generated a huge culture shift to all those involved, and it is now beginning to be replicated in other wards across the trust.


  • Bath Student Community Partnership
  • Bron Afon Community Housing
  • Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Connaught-Ulster, Eastern-Midlands and Southern Region Waste Management Office
  • Hubbub
  • Keep Britain Tidy
  • Reuseful UK
  • South Norfolk Council
  • University of St Andrews
  • Warwickshire County Council


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