SOCIAL EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM
Furniture Bank’s Leg Up job training program provides marginalized individuals facing systemic barriers to employment with full-time jobs and training required to thrive in the job market.
Embedded in all aspects of Furniture Bank’s operations, Leg Up employees will hold full-time positions (with benefits) in our warehouse, trucking fleet, Workshop, call centre, and accounting and administrative departments and receive comprehensive training for their respective positions.
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More about Leg Up:
- Started in 2010 to create social employment, skills training and work experience within Furniture Bank’s operations
- 350 participants over last 12 years through the program
- No training or education required
- Today over 2/3 of our staff are linked to the Leg Up program
LEG UP OVERVIEW
Social employment embedded throughout Furniture Bank operations
Over 350 Leg Up employees have supported ending furniture poverty in Toronto by:
- handling over 2,800 trailers of furniture (15,000 tonnes)
- redistributing 500,000 items of furniture
- supporting over 127,147 individuals and 29,000 families
Furniture Bank works with local employment agencies serving:
- low-income individuals
- equity-deserving individuals
- immigrants and newcomers
- formerly homeless individuals
- formerly incarcerated individuals
- IBPOC individuals
- 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals
- individuals with disabilities
- other individuals facing barriers to employment
MORE THAN A JOB
Wrap-around support employment
Furniture Bank’s Leg Up Program also provides necessary life and skills training, and wraparound support including:
- mental health supports
- accessibility training
- sensitivity training
- workshops in conflict resolution
- financial literacy
- personal and professional coaching
These supports help vulnerable and marginalized individuals succeed in the workplace, achieve greater financial independence, and retain secure employment within, or, after their year-long training, beyond Furniture Bank.
Delivering results since 2010
Leg Up impact numbers
The goal of Leg Up is to foster personal and professional growth in an empathetic environment, while building employees’ long-term confidence.
Source: FBSS platform lifetime data, SROI report indicators
EMPLOYMENT THROUGHOUT FURNITURE BANK
ALL functions of Furniture Bank are staffed with Leg Up employees
- Logistics and trucking
- Warehouse and shipping
- The Workshop
- Finance and accounting
- Customer service and sales
In 2022, we maintained full employment for 39 Leg Up employees and hired 26 new Leg Up employees.
What do Leg Up Employees do at Furniture Bank?
Logistics & Trucking
We have 10 trucks on the road that:
– provide professional furniture removal and delivery services across the GTA
– pick up donations from 6 GTA IKEA locations
Our employees deliver exceptional service to the community:
– Net promoter score of 89
Ensures donations collected today are delivered to new families within 72 hours!
Warehouse & Shipping
Leg Up employees within the warehouse handle:
- unloading inventory
- processing and recycling
- staging furniture
- furniture selection for families
Everyday, Leg Up employees unload, sort, process, and load 2 tractor trailers worth of furniture.
Successful employees grow into opportunities on the trucking teams out in the community.
10% of furniture donated to Furniture Bank need repairs
Since 2015, The Workshop has repaired and salvaged 18,606 pieces of furniture
Partnering with Miziwe Biik Aboriginal Employment and Training, we create skilled woodworking trade program to repair, refurbish and upcycle items
In 2021, we expanded to begin upcycling items for sale as our new social enterprise and started creating bed frames and full bedding kits
In 2022, our Workshop repaired and salvaged 4,950 items
Finance & Accounting
We have ongoing roles providing newcomers the needed experience to join the Canadian accounting profession.
- Leg Up participants handle Furniture Bank’s accounting and finance processes.
- Many of Leg Up trainees have earned their CPAs with Furniture Bank and now serve as senior finance leaders in other organizations.
Customer Service & Sales
Handling the thousands of donor requests for furniture removal involves a dedicated team of Customer Service & Sales.
Skills and training include:
- Salesforce CRM
- Hubspot sales / marketing
- Phone sales skills
- Customer service
Our Indigenous-led Workshop trains individuals in furniture repair, upholstery and woodworking. The Workshop eliminates barriers in the attainment of meaningful work by providing trade training, creating long-term social employment opportunities, and providing sustainable careers in the refurbishing and reupholstering field. This in turn results in more quality furnishings for the beneficiary clients.
Furniture Bank's Workshop repurposing model:
- Contributes to climate change mitigation
- Prevents valuable resources from going to waste
- Reduces the environmental impact of furniture production & disposal
Leading to an increased need for Leg Up employees
During the COVID-19 pandemic, our services were severely affected, leading to an 80% drop in clients served initially. However, furniture poverty surged, resulting in a 200% increase in client demand. To meet this need, we partnered with IKEA Canada and Furniture Link to redirect 12,000 beds to empty housing.
This successful pilot project led to a formalized multiyear contract, expanding our access to all six GTA IKEA stores, which in turn means an increase in the number of Leg Up employees.
Over the last decade, we have provided meaningful employment and skills development for over 350 employees, many of whom transition successfully to jobs in Furniture Bank, and in other industries and organizations including Telus, Metropolitan University, Daily Bread Food Bank, Bombardier, and self employment.
The future of Leg Up at Furniture Bank
Leg Up’s short-term goals include providing employment opportunities to 30 participants in 2023, enhancing skills development, and offering soft-skill support and training.
Long-term goals involve replicating the program as Furniture Bank scales our operations, improving trainees’ employability, enhancing self-esteem and financial stability, and supporting active and fulfilling employment. Additionally, the program aims to increase the capacity of the Indigenous-led Workshop for furniture repair and establish it as a sustainable social enterprise.