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Young people give old furniture a makeover in Ealing

brightly painted chairs

Young customers of Catalyst and the London Borough of Ealing have been getting creative over spring half term.

They’ve been giving old chairs in the disused chapel at St Bernard’s, in Southall, a new lease of life – with a bit of help from Goldfinger Factory and the Victoria and Albert museum.

Making old furniture as good as new

The young people, ranging from their early teens to early 20s, each chose a chair from the chapel and spent a week ‘upcycling’ it – turning the old, battered furniture into bright, snazzy seats. They also worked together to decorate some pews, which they’ll see in the future in the community space that will be created in the chapel, and in Catalyst’s office in Havelock.

Before they started work, the group took a trip to the V&A in search of inspiration from furniture design through the ages. Artisans at Goldfinger Factory – who train people to use reclaimed and upcycled materials to create bespoke furniture and interiors – were on hand all week to offer support as the project got under way.

Catalyst and London Borough of Ealing (LBE) joint funded the project.

Learning new skills and having fun

‘It was so much fun when we splashed paint all over the pew on the last day!’ said Katie, 14. old pew spattered with bright paint

‘If Catalyst did another project like this, I’d definitely join in – and I’d recommend it to my friends.’

One of the young residents was so inspired they’re now considering making a career out of upcycling.

Ollie Waddington-Ball, Goldfinger Factory’s founder, said working with the young people had been wonderful for the whole team. ‘You can tell as the days go by that they’re getting more and more involved in the idea that they’re going to be living with this piece of furniture.

‘LBE and Catalyst Gateway told us what each young person wanted to get out of the project and what kind of support they might find helpful, so we could tailor our teaching to get them interested and give them the skills they’re after.’