Blog: Working hard to furnish Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games legacy

Gordon Sloan
Gordon Sloan

By Glasgow Housing Association chair Gordon Sloan

The operation to move, store and distribute furniture from the Commonwealth Games Athletes’ Village in Glasgow to people in need is unprecedented in size and scale.

Our teams of staff made no fewer than 2500 round trips to move over 40,000 items of furniture and household goods from the Village in the city’s East End.

Demand for the furniture in the first few months was high, with sofas and bean bags quickly snapped up by families needing help to furnish their homes. Our teams worked flat out for months to get as much out as quickly as we could, working with 78 community organisations, charities and other housing associations, to pass on furniture to thousands of people in and around Glasgow.

In total, over 22,000 items have made their way so far into people’s homes, with GHA and its sister organisations helping 1500 households directly during this monumental Games legacy effort.

As well as the sheer scale of the operation, there have been other challenges. We needed far more storage facilities than originally expected and we have been left with hundreds of mattresses few people want. Although we deep clean every single one before it is handed over, very few people want a second-hand mattress. In fact, since a number were recycled from the 2012 Olympic Games in London, some are actually third hand.

To make matters worse, there has also been water penetration at the storage facility, which left some of the unwanted mattresses and other items soiled and damaged. However, we do have contents insurance and our teams are continuing to clean, repair and recycle the remaining items, such as wooden bath mats, coffee tables and clothes racks, and to deliver them, as required.

Although demand has tailed off dramatically, we are still delivering items that have been individually quality checked to around half a dozen homes a week. We are also now looking at how we can recycle the remaining mattresses, with all money raised re-invested into community legacy projects.

I recently met Barry, a GHA tenant who received Games furniture, and he told me: “There are people out there who don’t have anything at all. It has really helped them out.”

It’s for people like Barry that we stepped in in the first place and I have no doubt, despite all of the problems and challenges, it has been a hugely worthwhile and important Games legacy.


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