Furnishing Futures is a charitable initiative in London that aims to fully furnish the homes of families who are experiencing furniture poverty by using good quality items donated by the interiors industry that would have gone to landfill and collecting community donations of good quality preloved furniture and items for the home. We believe that by helping families create a safe and comfortable home, we can give them back their dignity and hope for the future.

What is furniture poverty?

Furniture poverty is when people do not have basic items that most of us take for granted. This includes beds, chairs and sofas etc but also flooring, curtains and white goods such as a cooker, fridge or washing machine.

Why does furniture poverty exist?

Social housing tenancies are unfurnished and do not even include flooring, curtains or white goods such as ovens and washing machines, so they never include basic items of furniture. When a family is given a Council or housing association property, it is often completely bare and up to the family to furnish. For those on low incomes or on benefits, this is often impossible.

Many families are also living in poor quality temporary accommodation, which does not always provide basic items.

What is the impact of furniture poverty?

Families experiencing furniture poverty are more likely to be vulnerable to loan sharks and pay day loans to be able to meet their children’s basic needs. Being in furniture poverty perpetuates the cycle of poverty because without these basic items families cannot function, are more likely to get into debt and less likely to be able to hold down employment. Children cannot learn in school without a good night’s sleep in their own bed, families cannot sit down to a meal together or invite friends over if they do not have somewhere to sit. Parents cannot cook their children a meal without a cooker.

Furniture poverty is hidden behind closed doors and is becoming an increasingly widespread problem due to the impact of welfare reforms and austerity. You only need to look at the increase in homelessness and the use of food banks to see how this manifests. If you cannot afford to feed your family, how can you afford to furnish your home?

Providing furnishings and supporting families to create a safe and comfortable home supports their mental, emotional and physical wellbeing and helps to break the cycle of poverty.

Who are Furnishing Futures?

Furnishing Futures is founded by Emily Wheeler, an interiors writer, stylist and designer who is also a registered social worker. Deeply affected by the poverty she has seen through her front line work, Emily realised that she could combine her skills and knowledge to meet the needs of families who are living without furniture.

Emily is supported by a collective of interior stylists, designers and brands who donate items that may have been used on photographic shoots, in showrooms or that cannot be sold for some reason. Often these items would otherwise end up in landfill, so this offers a sustainable solution to two unsustainable problems.

Emily is also building links with other local organisations and community groups for Furnishing Futures to work alongside, as well as talking to corporate donors about how we can work together to meet the need.

Which area does Furnishing Futures work in?

Furnishing Futures is based in the London Borough of Waltham Forest and supports families here and in the surrounding areas. We hope to expand soon, subject to funding.

Who is eligible for support?

Furnishing Futures supports women and children who are experiencing furniture poverty or who have been rehoused after fleeing domestic abuse. Families must be in receipt of benefits and experiencing furniture poverty to be eligible for support. We also support families with no recourse to public funds, women’s refuges and safe houses. Families must live within the London Borough of Waltham Forest or surrounding area.

How do I make a referral?

At the moment we work with local referral partners who include food banks, baby banks and women’s domestic abuse services. Please email hello@furnishingfutures.org if you would like to become a referral partner.

Please note that we are a small start-up project with limited storage space and do not hold large amounts of stock. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to accept all referrals or fulfill all requests, although we do our best.

Why is Furnishing Futures different?

Furnishing Futures is different to other furniture projects in two ways. Firstly, there is no cost to families. Most furniture projects charge a discounted price for their items, but even these low prices are out of the reach of the families we support who often struggle to meet their basic household expenses. Secondly, Furnishing Futures aims to work alongside each family to furnish the whole home with everything needed to live comfortably, should this be needed, from cutlery and curtains to sofas and sideboards.

Furnishing Futures is a charitable initiative that combines interior design with social work values. Many charitable furniture projects are able to supply a few necessary items but this does not make a home, and we strongly believe that creating a nurturing, safe and comfortable home is essential for families to have the best chance of leading full and productive lives.

How can interiors and homeware brands donate items?

Please email hello@furnishingfutures.org and Emily will be delighted to talk to you about how you can support families in need by donating furniture and homewares. Donating items that may be surplus stock, seconds or ex-display is a great way to support families in need of good quality furnishings while reducing landfill, and we are keen to develop brand partnerships.

How can I donate money to support the work of Furnishing Futures?

You can donate via our Just Giving page https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/furnishing-futures or contact us if you would like to donate directly.

Coming soon

Furnishing Futures is in the pilot stage, working with a small number of families while we develop our model of working.

Please keep checking back for updates about our referral criteria and for information about how you can help.

If you would like to get in touch you can email us at: hello@furnishingfutures.org.