University of Leeds donates flooring to charity

A community charity which provides supported work for adults with learning disabilities has benefited from wooden flooring donated during the refurbishment of a Grade II listed building.

Sewell Construction is the principal contractor on the refurbishment of the School of Fine Arts at the University of Leeds, with work including replacing 1,000sq m of wooden flooring.

Instead of placing the old flooring in skips, it has been donated to the Chopsticks charity based in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, which collects waste wood to cut, sort, bag and sell.

The charity gives adults with learning disabilities the chance to gain new skills and receive support in a working environment.

Chopsticks also runs a garden care and home maintenance scheme for elderly or disabled people, enabling them to remain in their own homes for as long as possible.

Sharon Best, Service Provisions Manager at the charity, said: “We teach adults with disabilities to make wooden products and teach kindling skills, as well as using machines.

“It’s very important that we have timber coming in because we don’t like it going to landfill.

“It’s all donated to us and helps us support our people in making new products.

“Anything we can’t make into kindling or use to make a product, we chip and sell it on to make biomass fuel.

“It’s fabulous to receive this donation and without support like this, we wouldn’t exist, so it’s important and we are incredibly grateful.”

Located in the heart of the University of Leeds campus, the Sewell Construction team is nearing completion on the Leeds Fine Arts project.

Working with planners at the local authority and a conservation officer, they have maintained as many of the existing features of the former geography building as possible.

There are 75 contractors on site as the finishing touches are being made.

Paul Cook, Strategic Programme Manager in the Capital Development Team at the University of Leeds, said he was delighted to support Chopsticks.

He said: “We are really pleased the flooring has a second life and will go on to support the charity.

“It’s great that it won’t be going into landfill and can help others down the line.”

Paul Armitage, Sewell Construction site manager, said: “They are old floor boards dating back to the 1920s and they’re not treated or varnished.

“Our subcontractors laying the new floor told us about the charity and we thought it was a fantastic idea to donate it.

“I hate throwing things away anyway and we are so pleased to support the charity.

“We would much rather the flooring went to good use and it’s also saved us two skips.”