Furnishing Futures is a community project in North East London that aims to fully furnish the homes of families who are experiencing furniture poverty by using good quality items that would have gone to landfill and collecting community donations of 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 often do not include flooring, curtains or white goods such as ovens and washing machines. So 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?
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 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.
Why is Furnishing Futures different?
Furnishing Futures is different to other furniture projects in two ways. Firstly, there will be no cost to the families. Most furniture projects charge a discounted price for their items, but Emily noticed that even these low prices are out of the reach of the families she has met. Secondly, Furnishing Futures aims to work alongside each family to furnish the whole home with everything needed to live comfortably. Many charitable furniture projects are able to supply a few necessary items but this does not make a home and Emily strongly believes that creating a proper home is essential for families to have the best chance of leading full and productive lives.
Furnishing Futures is in the pilot stage, working with a small number of families while we develop our model of working, and so we are not yet taking referrals from other organisations sorry.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.