Furniture makers charity to boost support for those hit by pandemic

The Furniture Makers’ Company (FMC) has launched its Step 2 It campaign to help boost its financial support for those in the furniture industry hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The new campaign will run from May this year until April 2022 and aims to raise £250,000 for those in need, after a year in which the charity awarded record numbers of financial grants to people from the trade whose lives and livelihoods were impacted by the pandemic.

The Step 2 It campaign will encourage individuals and companies to stage sporting activities, and any monies raised by them through sponsorship will be match-funded by an unnamed benefactor.

Anyone interested in taking part can go to the FMC website and fill in a pledge form. They will then be sent a toolkit pack that will include ideas for the kind of events they could run, and also posters that can be displayed in the workplace, as well as various digital marketing materials. The FMC will then help to promote these events on its own website and social media.

At a virtual press conference yesterday (Wednesday), the Master of the Furniture Makers’ Company, David Woodward, announced details of the new campaign.

In his opening address, Woodward said: “Over the past year, our charity has stepped up its welfare support and helped many people from the trade that have been financially disadvantaged by the Covid-19 pandemic. The impact that our charity has had on the lives of those people that have needed support throughout this difficult period is immeasurable. It has been truly heartening to hear some of the stories of how we have made a difference.”

The conference heard from one FMC member who had benefited from the charity’s help. Sean used to work for a main furniture manufacturer that went into liquidation last July. “I lost all of the commission outstanding, lost all of my redundancy and my notice. I am a single parent with a little girl and a mortgage and this left us in a complete muddle. The administrators recommended the Furniture Makers’ Company to see if they could support me, and they did. The process was really simple. They even gave us money towards Christmas. I am quite overwhelmed by the support they have given me and my daughter.”

Speaking of why the FMC felt it had to step up its efforts with Step 2 It, Woodward said: “We are not out of the woods yet with Covid and we believe there are likely to be many more redundancies in the future. The launch of the Step 2 It campaign couldn’t have come at a more critical time.  It will ensure more people hear about us and are able to receive help.”

Emma Delea, business development manager at Fira International in Stevenage, and a freeman of the FMC, explained that Fira decided to support Step 2 It by creating an event they call Keep On Running, which will see them run for as far as they can get sponsorship. For every £500 they get, they will run an additional 5km. They will hold the event on May 1 and will run along the towpath of the nearby River Stort.

Delea said: “What I would ask is can you dig deep. It’s just one way to get involved. We’re going to do the hard work, so all we need is for people to sponsor us to run even further.”

Meanwhile, Alan Styles, the MD at FMC corporate member Axminster Tools in Sittingbourne, Kent, said he was planning to join former FMC Master Paul von der Heyde on a cycle ride to London over a three-day period at the end of June, along with two other two past Masters of the FMC, Ben Burbidge and Hayden Davies.

Styles said: “I encourage everyone to get involved in Sep 2 It, whether it be walking a couple of miles, doing a cycle ride. There has never been a more important to do so.”

FMC Master Woodward added: “With many of us having led more sedentary lives than normal over the past year, we’re hoping Step 2 It will encourage the trade to get active by organising Covid-compliant events that bring people together and promote the charity’s work while raising funds. What you do to raise the money is up to you. It could be something as simple as a sponsored walk or a company game of rounders – whatever you want. What’s more, thanks to a generous benefactor, every single penny we raise will be match funded, giving you double the reason to Step 2 It and raise money for our charity.”

Sponsors signed up so far are Axminster Tools (silver), The British Contract Furnishing Association and The British Furniture Manufacturers Association (bronze), Lamello, Ocee Design and Panaz (silver). FMC is looking for eight gold sponsors, eight silver sponsors and six to 12 bronze sponsors.

Anyone interested in becoming a sponsor or getting involved with Step 2 It should visit the FMC website and fill in the pledge form. There will also be a JustGiving page for those wishing to support those taking part in events.

The charity has been established for over 100 years and has 300 individual members and 37 corporate members in the furniture and furniture-related industries. 

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