Emily was delighted to be interviewed by James Cracknell for the Waltham Forest Echo in September 2020.
Interior designer Emily Wheeler tells James Cracknell about her mission to furnish the homes of those most in need
What do you do if you need new furniture but you can barely afford to feed your family? How are you supposed to be able to buy a sofa if you’re on welfare support?
This is a problem Emily Wheeler decided to help solve, after realising she had a unique set of skills that put her in an ideal position to do so.
Emily was previously a social worker for Waltham Forest Council, a job that gave her an insight into the conditions people in poverty are living in across the borough. But she is also an experienced interior designer – having even written a book on the subject.
“In my job as a social worker I met families struggling in poor-quality housing and suffering from austerity,” Emily says. “It is difficult for them to meet their children’s needs and it has an impact on their physical and mental health.
“There are an estimated half-a-million children in England who don’t have their own bed to sleep in – 65% of private tenancy homes are furnished but less then 2% of social tenancies are furnished. These are the people who need the most support.
“Sometimes they have teenagers with no space to sleep or do their own homework. They might have no oven, no washing machine. It is very difficult for families reliant on welfare to be able to furnish their homes.”
Emily saw an opportunity to use her skills as an interior designer to help affected families, not just by finding furniture for them, but by helping them to make a home that they felt happy in.