Dave FirthI'm Dave Firth and I am the Operations Director for SLATE.

Slate has been going strong now for near on 15 years. It has grown from the idea of a very inspiring lady, to a thriving Leeds organisation. From the inspirational beginnings of the Moor End shop in 2004 we have developed the organisation to two thriving furniture shops, a stunning cafe and vibrant headquarters, which is a hive of activity.

As you are all aware, SLATE is an organisation that offers working opportunities to adults with learning disabilities. We offer work based training and use the person centred approach with all our volunteers. Our team are given the opportunity to explore different aspects of our organisation and discover where their passion lies.

Along their journey within SLATE many practical skills are developed and more and more frequently craft based projects are being undertaken. We largely had to do all our projects within the shops until now.

Our top floor of SLATE HQ has been transformed into a safe, clean environment for our more practical operational duties. In the main workroom our team will learn practical skills such as building and repairing furniture. Organising and preparing stock ready for the shops alongside future art projects which we hope to share with other organisations.

Our second larger room is a quiet space for the team to relax, to use the computer and for more work based projects.

This is something we have always done but now we can just do it that little bit better. Thanks to grants from Bailey Thomas, Jimbos Fund and Sir George Martin Trust, we were able to further develop our organisation and the team within it.

This is not just an extension to our building portfolio but also an extension of the possibilities we can create. Not only for our volunteers but also the team who work so hard to support and nurture.

When I joined SLATE over 3 years ago my first instinct was to think what can I do for this organisation. As it happens, it’s been all about what they have done for me. Never in my life have I had the privilege to work with such dedicated, inspiring people. I have been shown what true
support is, what friendship can really mean to someone and also what hard work is really about.

I see challenges faced every day and stumbling blocks overcome. I see people grow in ways they never thought possible. I see acts of kindness that are selfless, and I also see a family. From its foundation SLATE has been about its people. They are the life blood that makes it work.

I could talk all day about how much money we make, how many tonnes of furniture we divert from landfill. That is very important to us and makes the organisation continue, but today is about the new Impact Centre and our team.

Our great team; staff and volunteers. Our board; friends of SLATE and all those who have offered their support over the years. Also, those dear friends who are no longer with us. 

This is a celebration. A celebration of talent. And a welcoming of our next chapter.