‘Hey’ is a new series where we catch up with interesting people from Plymouth and the surrounding area. We discover what they are about and what they are up to.

Next up in the series is Frances Daykin from Plymouth Scrapstore.

Plymouth Scrapstore CIC  is an organisation saving items and materials from landfill and using them to promote craft and creativity while engaging with the local community. They run workshops and events and promote making play and craft that’s accessible to all. We spoke to Frances, who joined the Scrapstore in August last year.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2H3A0282-scaled.jpg

How are you? 

I’m good. I’m busy. I’ve got my finger in a lot of pies. Doing a lot of things across the city, which is nice. You have to put on a lot of different hats but this is a nice hat to wear, I love being here. I just go for it in the job I’m in that day and I just kind of put blinkers on for the other ones. It’s impossible not to merge them all together, which is quite nice, because then you’re kind of just linking up all the different communities and everyone in Plymouth.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2H3A0153-1-scaled.jpg

How did you become involved with the Scrapstore?

I’ve been a customer for a bajillion years. I’ve been coming since I was little. I even used to have a Scrapstore barrel in my bedroom at one point. I LOVE the Scrapstore.

I remember my scrap and what I made from it. I’ve been coming for years and years as a customer and then I was looking for a change of careers. I was working at Devon County Council and I was missing creativity. Every time I came to the Scrapstore, it was my happy place as a customer and I used it for all sorts, making stuff for my daughter out of scrap things. I was doing workshops in the community and every time I came here, it was just amazing. One day I got all these messages from my friends saying, there’s a job going at the Scrapstore. Have you thought about applying? It would be your perfect job. So I applied and now I’m here and it is my perfect job. I love it, I’m very happy.

What is the main mission statement of the Plymouth Scrapstore?

There’s the mission statement of, all the stuff that we have here would otherwise be going to landfill. There’s the sustainability element of things, we care about our planet and we want to make sure that things aren’t going to be chucked away when they could be used for something else. Another strand of the Scrapstore is about play and imagination and creativity. Something that I think we offer that’s really, really special is the fact that children could come into the Scrapstore and it lets you just do anything with anything, for example, when we do our junk modelling sessions out in a community, it’s very important to us that we’re not putting ideas into children’s heads when they’re making stuff out of scrap. One time there was some kid who made a jacuzzi out of a yoghurt pot for a spoon and it was like, that’s great, there’s just no limits. Play and creativity and exploration with stuff is so integral to children.

Just reading a quote that’s on the wall in this office that we have up here, which reads “The right to play is a child’s first claim on the community, because play is nature’s training for life.” So that’s really important.

We are here to say play is anything. The other thing we’re trying to say is play can be accessible. We want things to be cheap and affordable and accessible to people. We want people to come away and go, oh, wow, look, you’ve just got a cardboard tube and a marble, and that is amazing, I didn’t need to go out and buy this swanky thing I saw on Instagram. It doesn’t need to be like that. It can be a cardboard box. You can just have a load of random materials, textures. You can do sensory stuff. It doesn’t need to be perfect. In fact, it makes it less restrictive if it’s not perfect, and that’s the beauty of the Scrapstore. One thing I love that happens quite often is you’ll see parents come in with little ones, there’s one dad who comes in and he gets a bag, gives it to his daughter and goes, off you go, go get some bits. And then she fills it with whatever they want and then they go home and make stuff. I love that. That’s just really nice. That’s just a really nice thing.

What kind of regulars do you get in the Scrapstore?

We get everyone. That’s the nice thing about the Scrapstore, we want it to be a space for everyone. We get people in the local community that come in. We have some people that come in once a day to come and browse. We’re also just a nice bunch of people here. People come in and have a chat, show us what they’ve made. We get students that are working on projects and we try to keep on top of what they’re doing, and we know when the hand in dates are. So they all come in and we’re like, are you okay? How’s hand-in going? And we have families that come in. I would say a huge portion of our audience is the creative community in Plymouth. People doing workshops, people with community groups. We have Charlotte, part of our team, who goes out and engages with those community groups and connects with them. Behind the scenes here, there is a lot of connecting going on, and it’s not just the shop, I should definitely say that.

We really love to engage with, and support, other community things going on. Just to think of a couple, we have Clean Our Patch, Plymouth Energy Community, there’s Art and Energy, who do some amazing things. All of these groups, we like to raise them up and celebrate them. The other strand of people which are potentially my favourite are the people that have never been into the Scrapstore before who come in and go, oh, my gosh, what’s this? This is amazing. And then I get to have a chat with them and find out what they’re into, help them find stuff, they’re great as well. I love it. 

What does a typical day at the Scrapstore look like?

There’s not a typical day at the Scrapstore. That’s another reason why I love this job. My job is to talk to people. I’m the people person here, that’s my role, to chat to people, get feedback from them, collect their thoughts about the Scrapstore, and help them. But I’m also working in the shop as well, so a typical day might be chatting to somebody about something that’s suddenly sparking an idea, and then going, oh, yeah, we do have that upstairs. I’ll go and get the thing from upstairs. Then there’ll be a call, there’ll be a delivery, something like “we’ve got 1,000 ball pool balls coming, can you help get this out the van?” so we might offload that, and then there’ll be somebody like, oh, have you got this thing? and we’ll be like, no, we haven’t got that today but we’ll take your name for you, and then the next day that thing comes in, and so on. It’s just a magical place.

We have people that come in for a chat, sometimes we do crafting things in the evening, and for the winter, we’re a registered warm space, so we have cups of tea with people, and then suddenly you might spend a whole day folding fabric or filling buckets with egg boxes, taking out bins, all sorts.

Being here, though, it does sometimes feel like the inside of my brain. There’s all these different things and that can be a struggle, you suddenly look around and you catch yourself holding a random piece of scrap and you’re like, where does this go? Then you start to look around and you’re like, where does anything go? Oh, my gosh. It can be really overwhelming at times. When you just talk to customers and see all the lovely interactions we have with people, I love hearing about all the amazing things people are making. Like, just before we started this interview, there was someone who came in from the Rainbows (Girl Guides) and they were going to make some rain sticks for an event, I’ve just been looking at how we could take apart some fluorescent workman’s trousers to make bags with someone, and I’ve looked at how someone made an angel for their Christmas tree out of scrap and then used some glasses lenses for the wings, and they were so excited to come and show me, which was lovely.

What’s the favourite thing about your job?

The people I get to meet, I think I’ve met some people that do come in every day, like the regulars that come in, they’re friends now, and I genuinely get excited about hearing what they’ve made. And I get inspired everyday. It’s an inspiring place and the best thing is seeing when people stumble on this place, and you can actually see something spark off in their head about how they’re just immediately inspired. What often happens is they will come in to say, I just saw this walking past and 2 hours later they will still be rummaging, and then you’re like, yeah, you’re converted, you’re a scrappy now.

Do you think it makes people loosen up a bit?

Oh, absolutely. Like all of us, it’s very down to earth. You come in and it’s very welcoming. I feel very welcome here. For example, we’ve had people that have come in, you can see actually they’re not doing so well, so you might go and grab a tub of buttons and just be like, would you like to sort through some buttons? and then you start just fishing through some buttons together and having a chat. And then you might be like, would you like a cup of tea? We’re just open to anything and being friendly and chatting to people about themselves and what they’re doing.

One thing for everyone to try?

I drop the Scrapstore into every conversation anywhere. I’m like, have you been there?

I genuinely would recommend coming in here with no agenda and just coming for a walk around because you will leave inspired or you will have had a nice chat with someone and there’s no judgement here. I would recommend coming down and spending some time at this end of Plymouth as well. I love Union Street. It’s such a cool community.

How do you maintain a work life balance?

Pass. No comment.

Thing with the Scrapstore though is this place is quite an unusual place because it’s creative and I’m surrounded by creative people. It’s quite a treat to be here as a space but no there’s no such thing as a work life balance as a creative person, especially with a toddler.

What are your future plans personally? And then what are the future plans for the Scrapstore?

My future plans? I’ll keep saying yes to things. I think it’s working well, and for the Scrapstore we’ve got some ideas, we’re always on the lookout to see who we can benefit from the Scrapstore? Who can we reach out to? We’ve had a few pilot sessions with young people around cosplay because we’re recognising that we are a really valuable resource for cosplayers. The reason I’m here is part of some funding from the Rank Foundation to do with addressing social isolation and loneliness. So one of the things we’re always looking to connect people and inspire people and it’s not just about selling stuff, it’s not just a shop but we will keep being a kind shop.

Playlist or podcast? and then any recommendations?

Playlist. Mine would be a hip hop playlist with smatterings of Neil Diamond and Cat Stevens. But I do love podcasts. I’m currently listening to the newest John Ronson. Things Fell Apart.

No actually scrap that. Podcast, Kermode & Mayo’s Take, that is my ride or die.

I really should mention that we also have volunteers, amazing volunteers that work in the shop, there’s volunteers that work behind the scenes, sorting and making up packs and things, we have volunteers on the shop floor as well. There’s that opportunity for people to get involved, we’ve got a lovely volunteer from City College at the moment, doing some work experience. 

Come in the door. Come through the door and grab a bag and just walk in and say hello. We’re not scary. I think something that people worry about with the Scrapstore and I’ve heard it a lot, is, “oh, I thought it was just for teachers” or “I didn’t realise anybody could go in.” Anybody can come in.

What do you think is the most common misconception of the Scrapstore?

That it’s not for everyone, but it is. People don’t realise how much more the Scrapstore is than a shop. And people don’t realise that it’s for them. When they assume it’s not for them, people assume it’s not for them. It’s for everybody.

What keeps you in Plymouth?

My mum. Family keeps me in Plymouth. I have been out of Plymouth, but, yeah, my mum, she’s my best friend. I love Plymouth as a city for the creative scene. The Plymouth community is friendly, it’s not pretentious. Everyone seems to be lifting each other up and it’s really nice. Supportive and really interested.

Charlotte who works here is amazing with people, she’s the connector. She goes out into the communities, her role at the Scrapstore is connecting everybody and making these relationships with other things, and she is really good at celebrating other people. I mean everyone here. I also should shout out to Joy and Lizzie, like everyone at the Scrapstore here.

People that come over from other countrieswill come into the Scrapstore and they’ll be like, we don’t have anything like this where we’re from. We’ve had that from a few different countries, actually and they’re like, this is amazing, what an incredible thing. And Scrapstores as well as the thing, if you want to find your local Scrapstore and you’re not in Plymouth, they’re all over the country and you can look on a website called Reuseful UK (reusefuluk.org) and you can find out where your local Scrapstore is. I would say that pretty much everybody that works for a Scrapstore seems to be a really, genuinely nice person. The Scrappies are great.

Is Scrappies a term you’ve made up?

No, it’s our Facebook messenger group at work and I just love it.

Check out Plymouth Scrapstore:

Website > facebook.com/plymouthscrapstore

Instagram > instagram.com/plymouthscrapstore

If you’d like to feature on our HEY Series please let us know. Get in touch here.