New lease of life
A not-for-profit waste recycling company is helping its workers as well as the environment
After 22 years in the British Army Simon Bowes-Daniels is no quitter.
So when he lost his lower leg through cancer aged 50, he saw his situation as a new challenge.
"Sometimes you get dealt bad hands in life, but you've just got to get on with it," says Simon, an ex-colour Sergeant in the Royal Green Jackets.
"Some people think that losing a limb is the end of their life but I say it's the start of a new life."
Unable to continue in his job as a loader and delivery driver, Simon decided to give volunteering a try in the hope that it might lead to a full-time paid position.
And his luck was in, because on completion of a work placement at Enviromail Ltd, a community organisation on Beverley Road, he was taken on as the firm's training officer.
The job involves teaching work skills to the long-term unemployed and people with learning difficulties.
And with his experience, not just as a soldier, but as a pub landlord for ten years, Simon is perfect for the role.
"A lot of the time it's about helping people to build confidence in themselves," says Simon (now 54), who lives on Holderness Road with his wife and two step-children.
"We get people in their twenties and thirties who've never worked before, and it's my job to work alongside them, build their confidence and improve their work-based skills.
"At the end of their work placement I complete a thorough written assessment of the trainees' skills which they can use to supplement their CV. To see some go on to full time employment is very satisfying."
Recycling is the future
Cardboard is crushed into bales
Just as Simon has found a new lease of life, Enviromail Ltd has entered new markets.
The not-for-profit company recycles waste which it collects from local workplaces including offices, canteens and colleges.
Work carried out by trainees includes operating a machine which crushes cardboard into bales and another which shreds confidential paper waste.
The firm has also recently acquired a glass recycling machine which 'implodes' glass bottles and turns them into tiny beads without sharp edges.
This product is then used for decorative purposes such as in artwork and on grave stones, or it can be melted down to make more glass products.
Used office supplies from paper clips to print cartridges are also recycled.
"I go home at night feeling that I'm helping the environment and also helping the trainees to create a better future for themselves," says Dave Allen (37), another full-time member of staff who was taken on through Hull City Council's Local Work Guarantee scheme.
Unemployed for ten months after losing his job at a caravan manufacturing firm, the father-of-two from east Hull, is now a machine operative who also supervises trainees.
Part of his job involves driving the van to deliver and collect recycling bins to and from company premises.
And at the same time Enviromail is supporting him while he studies for an NVQ level 2 in recycling operations.
"It's frightening being out of work when you have a family but here I've got job satisfaction and people appreciate what I'm doing," says Dave.
"Recycling is the future. It's a growing market and Enviromail are a forward-thinking company. It's an exciting time."
We receive help – and give it
Enviromail Ltd is one of a number of local not-for-profit organisations which have received grants of up to £10,000 from The Hull and East Yorkshire Community Foundation (HEYCF).
The aim of the grants is to help groups, including voluntary and community organisations, to improve the work skills of unemployed adults in Hull.
Trainees at Enviromail Ltd come on five-week placements and the number has grown from one per week a year ago, to four a week currently.
" It's very gratifying to know that the project not only supports the environment but is helping to change some people's lives," says director Pete Lemon who set up the firm five years ago with co-directors Katy Swaby and Marise Burton.
"We've had women who've not been to work for years while they bring up their children and haven't the confidence to go back.
"And we've had people who've never worked but are desperate to do so, some with learning difficulties and many who are from disadvantaged backgrounds."
"We're not-for-profit but we trade as a commercial business and that gives trainees an understanding of what they can expect in the world of work."
Other strands of the Enviromail Ltd business include bulk-mailing and archiving.
Grants from the HEYCF charity are funded by ONE HULL, which is the key body that brings together the public, private, voluntary and community sectors to create a better city.
For more information about a grant call 01482 320 021 or visit www.heycf.co.uk
For more information about Enviromail Ltd, or if your company would like to use its recycling services call 01482 718 718 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The glass recycling machine implodes bottles turning them into beads without sharp edges which can be used for decorating grave stones
Photography by Thomas Arran, Hull College