We welcome Simon Laughton, Facilities Senior Supervisor from the Facilities Department at St Mary’s Hospital on the Isle of Wight.
He’s here to talk about their new reuse project and the immediate positive effect that it has had.
Hi Simon, what was the problem that inspired a reuse programme?
The caretakers of the Hospital are quite used to being asked for things like beds, desks, and chairs, but in the past, the effect of reusing the items has not been measurable, so we did not have any information to give to the board about our savings.
We also did not have a store, so it was a case of a chair sitting in a corridor or a desk stored in an attic - but we wanted to reuse. We just needed a designated storage area for the project to grow. A central point was going to be essential so that when the project took off, the effects were measurable.
What steps did you and your organisation take on your reuse journey?
The reuse project was given to me to get it going at the start, in early October. I went to the print room, ordered about 150 fliers and some declutter posters, and I went around the hospital putting the posters up in main areas, as well as on pinboards in corridors and wards. I went to the post room and put one flier in every single pigeonhole so that I could be sure each ward would receive the information.
I then changed my policy on reuse, so that when someone would ring me and start asking about whether I had some tables or chairs, I’d send them to Warp It. This helped the project to grow at the start.
Next, I got in touch with the Communications department here at St Mary’s Hospital and asked them to put a centre-page spread about Warp It and our reuse project in the hospital’s weekly electronic news bulletin. This obtained us even more signups.
Within the first three weeks, I had 30 registrants on Warp It. Then I got another piece in the hospital weekly bulletin, this time giving more information about Warp It, what it does, who it helps, and how much we can save. Within the next three days, the number of subscribers doubled.
Note from Warp It: At the time of writing this case study, St Mary’s Hospital was 7 weeks into their reuse project and had saved £26,000 and gained 124 members.
What were the main barriers or challenges and how did you overcome them?
To be quite honest, I haven’t had any major barriers. The reason for this is that everyone who has logged in and signed up to Warp It has loved it and wanted to engage in recycling. Recycling and reuse have become something quite fashionable, and I’m fortunate for that.
The main challenge we do have is one that is shared by almost all NHS hospitals. We have to make big cost savings. Because of this, Senior Management has given me free rein to run this project. They can see that I’m saving money and like to hear about these savings in meetings. The Finance Department are also very happy, as they are able to log in online and see the savings reports for themselves.
What are your top tips for success for other similar organisations?
The main piece of advice that I would give is to avoid putting anything in your available stock on Warp It that is old and rough, because you will get a bad reputation for stocking rubbish. Quality control of reuse items is absolutely vital because people will keep on coming back if there is good stuff. Perhaps some things just need a scrub or some mending before being listed.
It might seem to contradict itself, but throwing some things away is actually good for reuse. I think that’s because those old and rough items are going to hold back your recycling and reuse rates if they put people off using the platform.
What are your plans going forward?
I am looking to get more office and clinic refurbishment items. When people have moved to other offices, or into newly refurbished clinics, I want to be able to go in and claim all of the items and furniture left, do some quality control, then put them on Warp-it.
I’d also like a bigger storeroom because of the number of items for reuse that I have in stock. As well as that, I’d like more members. We want to go out more into the community to get them involved. We are sharing more literature and engaging with the ward clerks to try and get some equipment from them too.
We are right at the beginning of the journey, but eventually, we will work with 3rd party members to reuse more equipment. We’ve had interest in partnerships, but it’s too early at the moment.
If anyone is going to start a reuse project, my advice is to really just get it started immediately and run with it. Give the project to one person, don’t micromanage or interfere with them. Let them do their thing.