A CHARITY that recycles household goods and furniture then sells them cheaply to those in need hopes to help thousands more people by relocating.

The County Durham Furniture Help Scheme (CDFHS) already helps around 1,000 people every month but Chief Executive Officer Steve Mitton believes it could reach three times as many by moving from its three rented units on Chilton Industrial Estate to a single, prominent site.

“We have a £500,000 turnover, 17 paid staff and a similar number of volunteers and help lots of people stricken by disadvantage.

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“Location is key and at the moment we are hidden on a middling estate, with three lots of overheads. But with the right premises, in the right location we could treble our work,” he said.

The charity, founded in 1970, already has cash lined up if the right property can be found.

Having worked with investment experts to strengthen its governance and business focus, through the National Lottery-funded Big Potential scheme, it secured a £700,000 loan from the North East Social Investment Fund via Northstar Ventures.

In October trustees signed a deal for a building at Tindale Crescent, near Bishop Auckland, but at the 11th hour the deal fell through and CDFHS was again left house-hunting.

Operations manager Lee Heightley said: “We were excited, we had everything ready and were up for the move. It would be a big change but we were looking forward to getting set up and seeing what we could do there.

“When it fell through we were left flat.”

The charity was then dealt another blow when chairman Ray Brown, who took over from retiring founder Chris Palmer in 2016, died of cancer on Boxing Day.

Mr Mitton said the charity has around12 months to find a new place so he is searching for suitable sites in the centre, south west or north west of County Durham.

He said: “Being gazumped hours before we expected to get the keys was terrible, our plan fell to pieces and we saw the back of £10,000 of expenses.

“Losing Ray was devastating, we were gutted but are now looking forward again.

“We are sitting tenants with money pretty much in the bank, so we’re asking anyone who has property that maybe isn’t on the market but could be available to get in touch.”

Contact the charity on 01388-721509 or email steve.mitton@cdfhs.org.uk