September 2016

Monthly Archives

Spotlight on The Pen Museum

pen-museum-imageTell me about what you do?
We started the Birmingham Pen Trade Heritage Association in 1996 as we felt there ought to be a museum to educate people on the history of the pen trade. At one point, Birmingham made up to 75% of the pen nibs in the world which were then exported globally.

As a result, we opened the museum in 2001 in order to educate people on Birmingham’s Steel pen trade and today we have over 5,000 objects which display its fascinating history.

What is your proudest achievement?
The aim of our organisation is to spread the word and educate people on the history of the steel pen. Our proudest achievement is the fact that a large number of people come to visit our museum from all over the world. As well as this, we were recently on TV on the Antiques Road Trip which shows the large amount of interest we have received.  We are becoming worldwide now and this is definitely the best achievement we could have ever wanted to achieve.

Tell me about any experiences you have had with SCVO?
We have not had any experience with SCVO before.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt from working with people in Sandwell?
It is surprising how a large number of the local people had no idea Birmingham had anything to do with the pen trade. You find this in a lot of places that the local people aren’t clued up with what their ancestors did. We think it is therefore up to us to bring this out in the open and make people aware of the role Birmingham played in this industry.

What are your plans for the future? Any challenges you face?
In terms of the future, we just want to stay in existence. As we are a charitable trust we don’t charge people to enter the museum and therefore rely on donations.  So the biggest challenge to us is an issue of funding. The cost of electricity and rent is very expensive even with a sponsorship from our landlord.

In addition to this, because we are a small company it is very hard for us to advertise. Even for a small advert it is still expensive for an organisation like us.

How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
SCVO could certainly help us by advertising on their website and elsewhere to make it known that there is a pen museum in Birmingham. At the moment we don’t charge for people to visit but as our costs are due to rise we may have to start asking for a small charge. However, we don’t want to have to do that. So funding is another area in which SCVO can possibly help us as it will allow us to meet these demands and remain in existence.

One last area would be through volunteers, we could certainly do with some for the long-term. Most of our volunteers tend to be short-term which means they are only here for a small period of time.

For more information please contact 0121 236 9834 or visit

Spotlight on REPC

REPC LogoTell us what you do
At REPC we do a number of things. Most importantly, we provide a data wiping service and security facility for large scale IT users. We also refurbish the equipment and upgrade the software as required. We are different from other IT recycling businesses as we put these pieces of hardware back into use. This is key our work as a social enterprise. In addition to this, we also provide high quality equipment to schools, charities, authorities, SMEs, the third sector and students at a low cost. We peovide these to people who cannot afford to buy brand new devices due to their budgets. As an authorised recycler we look to keep these devices in use.

What is your proudest achievement?
One of our proudest achievements is the work we do with young people with disabilities, people who have struggled written mainstream education. We do not discourage any individual and are proud to train and educate these individuals and prepare them for full time employment. In recognition of this, we have won a number of awards including one for greater community cohesion and programmes bridging the digital divide. We are also very proud of our work through connected housing led by 12 London and south based housing associations. This is helping to provide individuals with access to the internet, once again bridging the digital divide.

What is your experience of support received from SCVO?
We have previously trained and gained volunteers through SCVO and have attended conferences and events which they have conducted. This has helped us keep up to date with what is going on in the local area and specifically the third sector.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Sandwell?
I have learnt to never right anyone off, give everyone a chance. Lack of qualifications should be a barrier and neither should disabilities or gender. We find that people with disabilities can make the most loyal employees and can carry out very detailed work.  I have also learnt that collaboration with other providers is very important to providing more holistic services. No organisation can do everything so we strive to work with others in order to deliver broader and higher quality services.

What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
At the moment we are expanding and over the next 12 months we will be looking to double in staff. As a result, we will be looking for new employees and individuals to join and work for our organisation. The digital divide also remains a key issue and as a result we are looking to continue and expand our work towards eradicating this issue. In terms of the challenges, our most immediate challenge is keeping up with demand for our services. It is about having the right staff and training individuals. Therefore, we are looking to share resources with other companies to meet this demand. This is extremely important as this demand will only continue to grow.

How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
SCVO could promote greater levels of recycling and reuse of IT and other resources amonghts its members and the third sector, encouraging them to  spend their money efficiently and use Repc’s  services to help them achieve efficiency saving.  From our experience, no organisation use the full capacity of a brand new computer system so, before you buy new, think about purchasing quality use equipment instead and spend more of your scarce resources on frontline services.

For more information please contact 0121 557 6439 or visit

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B70 8ER