Steve jackson founder of furniture donation network

Steve Jackson was born in the city of Preston, Lancashire.

Educated at Hutton Grammar School, he was a quick learner but, knowing that he had a position waiting for him at his father’s scrap yard, he found it hard to concentrate on academic studies. He left school at just 16 to take up his first full-time position. Steve admits that the 13 years spent working at the heart of the metal recycling industry was his ‘real education’, giving him a solid grounding in business sense and the technical aspects of the industry, as well as helping him to develop a real flair for working with a range of people and the assertiveness needed to deal with tricky situations. He found that he had a passion for working with people with bright ideas – anyone from the general public to business owners and local authority executives – and had a talent for motivating and inspiring them, and helping them to maximise their skills.

Founder of Furniture Donation Network and other 'community dotcom' schemes, Steve Jackson

In October 1995, Steve decided to try his hand at running his own business. After researching the commercial potential of the Internet – still a relatively unknown concept at that time – he launched his own internet service provider and the first commercial domain name broker in the UK. Although his area of interest has expanded since then – and now includes more sophisticated ‘dotcom’ development - Steve still brokers domain names today and is the owner of the most prolific private collection in the UK.

Steve’s early fondness for personal vehicle registrations led him to incorporate New Reg Limited in 1996. Shortly afterwards, he decided to build on his knowledge of the internet and develop, which was the first personalised registration plate provider to go online and one of the very first eCommerce sites in the UK. The site is now a benchmark for an industry which has generated over £1billion for the British Government.

Although these ventures were a huge success, by late 1998, Steve was feeling a pull back to his roots. By 1999, he had assisted in the purchase of all of the primary recycling companies in Preston and merged these with his father’s metal recycling company to form Preston Recycling Limited.

In the meantime – never satisfied with just one project! – Steve acquired a major share in his local football team, Preston North End FC. He was instrumental in the reorganisation and streamlining of the club, and helped to ensure that it was able to quickly adjust to its post Premium TV structure. During his final two years with Preston North End, the club reached the championship playoff finals in both years.

In 2005, Steve was approached by Emmaus, who were considering establishing a community in Preston. Through these discussions, Steve was introduced to Terry Waite CBE – a meeting that was to change the course of Steve’s thinking forever.

Terry was impressed by Steve’s imaginative and unorthodox approach to the old problems of homelessness and worklessness. And, after speaking to Terry, and hearing how he was working to combat these and other humanitarian issues, Steve was inspired to find a new way to help tackle the problems himself. Determined to make a difference, and full of ideas on how he could use his skills and experience to help vulnerable people to change their lives, Steve resigned his position as CEO of Preston North End PLC and began work on a new kind of project: Recycling Lives.

Recycling Lives is a social welfare charity, supported by a commercial recycling company – a new entity built on Preston Recycling Limited. Fully supported by the commercial business, the Recycling Lives charity helps people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to work their way back to independent living by providing them with accommodation, education, training and work experience. Steve’s ambitious plans secured government grants of £1m and, by dedicating a large sum of money from his own companies to the project, he was able to build the first Recycling Lives recycling and residential centre in Preston. The centre opened in 2009 and has been home to a number of vulnerable individuals – as well as many ambitious, community focused projects – since then.

Steve has won a number of awards for his entrepreneurialism and his ideas. Recycling Lives Limited – the recycling and renewable energy company built on the success of Preston Recycling – was awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2010 and several of Steve’s social business platforms, such as Bulky Waste, have won prestigious awards for both their community and environmental benefits.

Steve is still as busy as ever, spending a lot of his time on his various ventures and continuing to think of new ways to bring business and social welfare closer together. He keeps close links with his home town of Preston and involves himself with the community there.

In 2011, with his focus still firmly on strengthening the board of Recycling Lives and building new centres across the country, Steve has declared his commitment to working only on ventures that have a social benefit. He is currently working to develop a range of ‘community dotcoms’ – online portals that allow UK householders to book quality commercial services from charities and social enterprises – and with ten of them in the pipeline, it certainly seems like a good way forward.

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