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The Partington charity where everyone – and everything – has a home

SOMEWHERE in Partington there is a toddler’s bed unit, complete with drawers, slide out table and hidden “den” that has found a home in seven different households.

That’s how many times clothes and furniture recycler Ear4U have had the unit donated to them and then sold on to another happy owner.

Graham, one of the many volunteers that help run Ear4U – so named because it also provides a listening ear for the lonely – has become expert at reassembling it.

“It’s a novelty thing, a lovely little thing. I can see why people like it. I’m just wondering how many more times it can be broken down and put back together again!”

Ear4U is a community interest company and the brainchild of sisters Trisha Watson and Janice Graham. Both Partington residents and previously carers in the community, they were bitten by the entrepreneurial bug after setting up a shop in a local care home. The pair made regular trips to warehouses in Manchester so they could sell goods to residents.

They quickly realised other people in the community would benefit from their enterprise, as well as a listening ear and the good company they provided. With no shop premises in Partington at the time, Your Housing Group and community interest company BlueSCI stepped in to help and Ear4U began trading from a small building.

They acquired a van with more help from Your Housing Group so they could accept more donations from local people and deliver items without charge.

“People would bring us clothes, bits of furniture, DVDs, CDs, all kinds of things,” Janice explained. “All the stuff was destined for landfill. We kept getting all these little wares and then very quickly we were running out of room again.”

Ear4U found in a new home in the former youth club on Moss Lane, ironically the former haunt of both Janice and Trisha, which they share with The Trussel Trust’s foodbank as part of the Trafford Community Collective. It’s a genuine Aladdin’s cave of various pieces of furniture, household items and unwanted goods.

With plenty of space at the youth club to expand they’ve been given a further confidence boost after attending the recent Your Housing Group-supported PopUp Business School event in Leek. There they learned that creating and running a website didn’t need to be so difficult, and that the best way to run a business was simply to do it and learn as you go.

Now with the help of volunteers - including Graham – Ear4U will restore furniture for its customers rather than pass on the work for someone else to benefit. There are also plans for a better website and the opening of a community tearoom.

“What going to the business school has done is inspire us to do the paint and wax items ourselves rather than simply pass on,” Janice said. “It’s also motivated us to get on with our website. We just get a buzz out of what we do. It’s helping people not just with things but just by being here for a bit of company. We’re Partington through and through and love the place, it’s a strong community and it’s great to be part of it.”

Graham’s just waiting for the toddler’s bed to reappear at the Ear4U doors once again. “I’ll have to make new screw holes to keep it together,” he said. It’s that kind of determination that makes Ear4U such a positive place to be.

  • Ear4U is open at Old Partington Youth Centre on Moss Lane Tuesday to Saturdays, 10am to 3.45pm. Email janiceg1955@hotmail.co.uk