LEG UP

SOCIAL EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM

Furniture Bank’s Leg Up job training program provides marginalized individuals facing systemic barriers to employment with full-time jobs and training required to thrive in the job market.

Embedded in all aspects of Furniture Bank’s operations, Leg Up employees will hold full-time positions (with benefits) in our warehouse, trucking fleet, Workshop, call centre, and accounting and administrative departments and receive comprehensive training for their respective positions.

Table of Contents

More about Leg Up:

  • Started in 2010 to create social employment, skills training and work experience within Furniture Bank’s operations
  • 350 participants over last 12 years through the program
  • No training or education required
  • Today over 2/3 of our staff are linked to the Leg Up program

LEG UP OVERVIEW

Social employment embedded throughout Furniture Bank operations

Over 350 Leg Up employees have supported ending furniture poverty in Toronto by:

  • handling over 2,800 trailers of furniture (15,000 tonnes)
  • redistributing 500,000 items of furniture
  • supporting over 127,147 individuals and 29,000 families 
 

Recruitment

Furniture Bank works with local employment agencies serving:

  • low-income individuals
  • equity-deserving individuals
  • immigrants and newcomers
  • formerly homeless individuals
  • formerly incarcerated individuals
  • IBPOC individuals
  • 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals
  • individuals with disabilities
  • other individuals facing barriers to employment

MORE THAN A JOB

Wrap-around support employment

Furniture Bank’s Leg Up Program also provides necessary life and skills training, and wraparound support including: 

  1. mental health supports
  2. accessibility training
  3. sensitivity training
  4. workshops in conflict resolution
  5. financial literacy
  6. personal and professional coaching

These supports help vulnerable and marginalized individuals succeed in the workplace, achieve greater financial independence, and retain secure employment within, or, after their year-long training, beyond Furniture Bank. 

Delivering results since 2010

Leg Up impact numbers

The goal of Leg Up is to foster personal and professional growth in an empathetic environment, while building employees’ long-term confidence.

Leg Up employees trained
0
items repaired in The Workshop
0
furniture items delivered
0
individuals trained in the Workshop
0
Source: FBSS platform lifetime data, SROI report indicators

EMPLOYMENT THROUGHOUT FURNITURE BANK

ALL functions of Furniture Bank are staffed with Leg Up employees

  • Logistics and trucking
  • Warehouse and shipping
  • The Workshop
  • Finance and accounting
  • Customer service and sales

In 2022, we maintained full employment for 39 Leg Up employees and hired 26 new Leg Up employees.

What do Leg Up Employees do at Furniture Bank?

1.

Logistics & Trucking

  • We have 10 trucks on the road that:
    – provide professional furniture removal and delivery services across the GTA
    – pick up donations from 6 GTA IKEA locations

  • Our employees deliver exceptional service to the community:
    – Net promoter score of 89

  • Ensures donations collected today are delivered to new families within 72 hours!

2.

Warehouse & Shipping

Leg Up employees within the warehouse handle:

  • unloading  inventory
  • processing and recycling
  • staging furniture
  • furniture selection for families

Everyday, Leg Up employees unload, sort, process, and load 2 tractor trailers worth of furniture.

Successful employees grow into opportunities on the trucking teams out in the community.

3.

The Workshop

  • 10% of furniture donated to Furniture Bank need repairs

  • Since 2015, The Workshop has repaired and salvaged 18,606 pieces of furniture

  • Partnering with Miziwe Biik Aboriginal Employment and Training, we create skilled woodworking trade program to repair, refurbish and upcycle items

  • In 2021, we expanded to begin upcycling items for sale as our new social enterprise and started creating bed frames and full bedding kits

  • In 2022, our Workshop repaired and salvaged 4,950 items

4.

Finance & Accounting

We have ongoing roles providing newcomers the needed experience to join the Canadian accounting profession.

  • Leg Up participants handle Furniture Bank’s accounting and finance processes.
  • Many of Leg Up trainees have earned their CPAs with Furniture Bank and now serve as senior finance leaders in other organizations.
5.

Customer Service & Sales

Handling the thousands of donor requests for furniture removal involves a dedicated team of Customer Service & Sales.

Skills and training include:

  • Salesforce CRM
  • Hubspot sales / marketing
  • Phone sales skills
  • Customer service

THE WORKSHOP

Our Indigenous-led Workshop trains individuals in furniture repair, upholstery and woodworking. The Workshop eliminates barriers in the attainment of meaningful work by providing trade training, creating long-term social employment opportunities, and providing sustainable careers in the refurbishing and reupholstering field. This in turn results in more quality furnishings for the beneficiary clients.

Furniture Bank's Workshop repurposing model:

  1. Contributes to climate change mitigation
  2. Prevents valuable resources from going to waste
  3. Reduces the environmental impact of furniture production & disposal

PARTNERSHIPS

IKEA Partnership:
Leading to an increased need for Leg Up employees

During the COVID-19 pandemic, our services were severely affected, leading to an 80% drop in clients served initially. However, furniture poverty surged, resulting in a 200% increase in client demand. To meet this need, we partnered with IKEA Canada and Furniture Link to redirect 12,000 beds to empty housing.

This successful pilot project led to a formalized multiyear contract, expanding our access to all six GTA IKEA stores, which in turn means an increase in the number of Leg Up employees.

EMPLOYEE TRANSITIONS

Over the last decade, we have provided meaningful employment and skills development for over 350 employees, many of whom transition successfully to jobs in Furniture Bank, and in other industries and organizations including Telus, Metropolitan University, Daily Bread Food Bank, Bombardier, and self employment.

LOOKING FORWARD

The future of Leg Up at Furniture Bank

Leg Up’s short-term goals include providing employment opportunities to 30 participants in 2023, enhancing skills development, and offering soft-skill support and training.

Long-term goals involve replicating the program as Furniture Bank scales our operations, improving trainees’ employability, enhancing self-esteem and financial stability, and supporting active and fulfilling employment. Additionally, the program aims to increase the capacity of the Indigenous-led Workshop for furniture repair and establish it as a sustainable social enterprise.