Meet Ross. He has been working full-time for the Genesis Trust Furniture Shop since October 2022 as one of our van crew. You may have met him if you have purchased some furniture from us or donated furniture to us over the last few years. Before he started working full-time, he volunteered in both the Furniture Shop and Bath Foodbank for 18 months.

The Furniture Shop is a social enterprise which aims to financially support the charitable work of Genesis Trust with homeless and vulnerable people. The Shop also provides furniture to people in need and offers a safe place for vulnerable people to enter back into the work force.

We asked Ross how he became part of the team at Genesis and what it means to him.  But this is more than just a story about work and volunteering, it is about his journey from addiction to restoration.

Ross came to live in Bath in May 2016. His journey before that had been chequered. After school he had a variety of jobs, working in the building trade, on a dairy farm in Cornwall and he also spent many seasons as a holiday rep in France. Things then took a turn for the worse and he stopped working. He entered a difficult phase of his life spending fifteen years suffering from addiction to alcohol and drugs – heroin, crack and strong lager.

Witnessing tragedy amongst his friends and being ill, homeless, and depressed, Ross realised that he needed to stop. He had been told that after the age of forty it’s harder to quit. He knew that he desperately had to change as the alternative was probably to die young.

To make a break from that life he moved from Bristol to Bath and managed to stop drinking and taking drugs. Then in six months he was able to stop his substitute medication as well. Ross took vocational courses through the job centre such as painting and decorating and stone masonry. He took up Maths and English again with Adult Learning in Twerton. It was at a Jobs Fair in 2019 that he met some of the Genesis team who were there promoting volunteering and trainee opportunities at the Furniture Shop.

Ross said, “They seemed approachable and so I went to speak with them.” And that was the start of his journey with Genesis Trust.

He started volunteering with our Furniture Shop until it closed because of the first COVID lockdown. He then helped John Stauber, our Foodbank Warehouse Manager, with Foodbank tasks like sorting donated food and collecting food from the various supermarkets around the city.

John said “It was an enjoyable experience working with Ross. He was not only fit and able, but his willingness shined through. We had a good chat and a laugh too. He took an interest in how the operation works and relished getting the job done.”

When the Furniture Shop opened again online in March 2021, Ross continued to volunteer with both the Furniture Shop and the Foodbank.

Anthony, our Furniture Shop Sales Manager, said, “Ross is happiest when he’s busy and he adds enormous value to furniture operations daily. He has gotten his life back under control and has developed a strong set of life skills, handling success and adversity in an extremely mature and measured way.”

So, Genesis Trust benefits from Ross’s work with us, but what does he get out of it?

Ross said, “What I get out of working for the Furniture Shop is a great feeling of being able to help people less fortunate than myself. I love working hard to help other people. In my old lifestyle I was a selfish person but now I want to help. I also really like chatting with people and I have been to some quite interesting places I wouldn’t normally have had a chance to see.”

We are so grateful for the invaluable support that Ross gives Genesis Trust. He inspires us with how he has turned his life around and has restored his health and wellbeing with self-determination and his cheerful, caring and can-do attitude. We are so glad to be part of his journey.