We were delighted and intrigued to be contacted by Steven Rae from the domestic appliance workshop at Edinburgh Prison this week. He was looking for a product which is safe to use but is effective at removing stubborn dirt from a range of surfaces found in domestic appliances, such as washing machines, fridges, toasters etc.
Steven explained how the inmates repair and fully refurbish domestic appliances for charity. They finish on average 100 machines per month and give them to local charities, all free of charge. Many of the machines are supplied by Tayside recycling and others come from council recycling centres. When they are in full working order and have been cleaned up they are passed on to charities such as EFI (Edinburgh Furniture Initiative) and Furniture Plus who sell them at low prices through their stores in Edinburgh, Dysart and Dunfermline. The workshop is proud of the fact that 95% of the machines they receive go back out in full working order and in a saleable condition. In fact they have been so successful that they reached the last 5 of the 2017 Scottish Public Service Awards.
18 prisoners work in the domestic appliance workshop. While they work they are also training for their City and Guilds qualification in white goods repair. The instructors including Steve himself are fully qualified City and Guilds instructors.
Steve's ethos of only using eco-friendly and biodegradable cleaning products fits in perfectly with the prison's duty of care to the prisoners. Vistal's Multi Surface Cleaner is currently on trial with the team there.
Talk about a win-win! This must be a win-win-win-win. Fewer white goods go to landfill or need to be broken up, charities make money from selling the machines and people on low incomes can buy them much more cheaply than new machines. Added to which the prisoners are learning new skills which they can use when they leave prison.