This is your call to join the circular economy – are you with us?
Our homes have a huge impact on our mental health and wellbeing. Living in poor quality housing without proper flooring, curtains or furniture has a devastating impact on people’s self esteem – and yet most social housing is given to families completely bare. These might be houses, but they’re not homes.
Women and children who are rehoused in empty flats after leaving abusive relationships find themselves plunged into poverty at the most vulnerable time in their lives. Families already struggling to make ends meet cannot stretch their shrinking household budgets to afford basic items like beds, sofas or curtains.
That’s where we come in. Furnishing Futures takes furniture and homewares donated by the interiors industry and our incredible supporters and creates healing homes that support women and children’s wellbeing and raise self esteem. We support families by creating beautiful homes, designed well.
Restoring dignity, giving hope
We use trauma-informed design to create spaces that nurture and uplift women and children who have experienced domestic abuse. We work with them to decide how their homes are decorated – something that’s incredibly important when your choices have been taken away from you in so many ways. From sofas to saucers, pictures to pans, we furnish homes with everything a family needs to be safe and comfortable – all at no cost to the people we support. We’re driven by our values to respect, empower and support families through the power of good design.
More love, less landfill
At the same time, we help brands in their journey to become more socially minded and sustainable, enabling them to donate stock that could otherwise end up in landfill – from photoshoots and ex-display items to unwanted goods returned by customers. By working together, we support a circular economy that benefits the environment as well as families in need.
About Furnishing Futures
Furnishing Futures is an innovative new charity founded by social worker and interior designer Emily Wheeler. We combine social work values with interior design skills to create trauma-informed, fully furnished healing homes for women and children escaping domestic abuse who are placed in empty social housing or living with furniture poverty, and who have experienced multiple disadvantages and trauma.
We do this by saving good quality furniture from landfill and partnering with the interiors industry, to design, fully furnish and decorate families' homes. We are a registered charity that is partnered with specialist domestic abuse services and grassroots organisations, and we have developed relationships with some of the UK’s best known interiors brands, stylists and designers who donate the products that go into the homes we create. Often these products are returns, seconds, ex-showroom, props or other stock that could otherwise have ended up in landfill. By using high quality donations from interiors brands, stylists and the local community, we create powerful social impact while supporting a circular economy.
We are a small, newly registered charity but our goal is to develop a model that can be scaled across the UK and further afield so that we can support more families, more effectively.
Furnishing Futures is a registered charity whose headquarters are based in Leyton, East London.
Emily Wheeler is a registered social worker with over twenty years’ experience in frontline social work. She is also a trained interior designer and a respected interiors writer and stylist who’s written for The Sunday Times Style, Stella, Ideal Home, Red, Guardian Weekend, The Simple Things, Homes & Antiques, Elle Decoration, Grazia, 25 Beautiful Homes and many others, and she is the author of Creative Living London (Thames & Hudson).
Emily was a frontline social worker in children’s services since 2002, working across some of the most deprived areas of London with the highest levels of child poverty. She has worked closely with women and children experiencing multiple disadvantages alongside the combined challenges of severe domestic abuse, poor housing and inequality, and has chaired multi agency child protection conferences for Local Authorities across London.
Claire has twenty years’ experience working in operations in the not-for-profit sector. Before joining Furnishing Futures in late summer 2023, Claire’s most recent position was as Head of Finance and Operations at Abianda, a pan-London organisation supporting young women and girls affected by organised crime, exploitation and violence.
Claire has worked for a number of small start-ups, playing an integral role in their development and growth. She is driven by social and environmental justice issues, both in her professional life and outside work. Claire has also previously managed a team of campaigning volunteers; been a Trustee at People & Planet, and volunteered for a number of local and national groups.
Partnerships Lead and Head of Homes
Charlotte is an award-winning designer who is known for her unique use of colour and curated interior design. She has launched a variety of high-profile collaborations with brands including Sofa.com, Made.com, Hillary's Blinds and Westfield from her private practice and worked closely with Emily in the early stages of Furnishing Futures’ development on home design and brand partnerships.
Charlotte balances her freelance work with Furnishing Futures with her own design studio, and guest lectures at a variety of universities. She has also been featured in publications such as Elle Decoration, Living Etc, Ideal Home, House Beautiful, The Pioneer Woman, Pantone View, The Times as well as appearing on Netflix and the BBC in recent years. She is passionate about sustainability and is an ambassador for NESTA Creative PEC.
Legal and Operations Volunteer
After leaving a legal career in the City, Geetu now runs a small grant giving charitable foundation. She is local and volunteers with us at least once a week, doing everything from making sure the warehouse is organised to helping on installations and drafting contracts for us.
Volunteer Carpenter and Joiner
Jarek is a master carpenter and joiner, who has worked for product design and build agencies and fine art galleries. Jarek is a freelance furniture maker and volunteers his skills with Furnishing Futures, supporting us on installations; repairing furniture and building bespoke cabinetry in our warehouse and studio.
Chief Motivator and Soother
Volunteer Finance Assistant
Holly has worked as a project manager and accountant for a property development company for the last 15 years. In her spare time Holly is renovating her own home and often helps us on installations and in the warehouse.
David Smail is an entrepreneur, mentor and business coach who has also worked with the School for Social Entrepreneurs. With over two decades of experience growing and running a business from humble beginnings to sales of £75m, David brings a wealth of experience to Furnishing Futures in helping us to achieve our vision and strategic aims.
Having sold his business, he now devotes his time to coaching social entrepreneurs and has worked with more than 50 social enterprises and charities, developing their strategic, management and leadership skills. As well as being the Chair of the Furnishing Futures board of trustees, David is also a trustee of Chance for Nepal and is on the advisory board of Talk 4 Health.
Alison Stewart MBE
Alison worked in public libraries and cultural services for almost 40 years, being awarded an MBE for her service. In 2012 Alison set up Suffolk Libraries IPS Ltd, an independent charitable mutual which took over the running of Suffolk’s public library service. Alison retired from her role as CEO in 2018, and since then has been an advocate for literacy, social justice, the arts and learning.
In 2018 she set up an Ipswich based charity to support adults who cannot read. She chairs the Board of a regional touring theatre company, is a trustee for a local learning institute in Ipswich and is the treasurer of a professional body.
Sarah Marsh is an experienced and highly qualified community worker with over 20 years’ experience working with vulnerable and isolated families in grassroots and frontline services.
Dedicated to advocating for and supporting children and families from disadvantaged backgrounds, she is the lead manager at Lloyd Park Children’s Charity baby bank in East London, where she works tirelessly to support vulnerable families. Sarah is an expert in supporting women in complex situations with compassion and empowerment.
Jojo Barr is Creative Director at House Nine Design and runs her interior design practice from her studio in Notting Hill. Her team designs high-end residential properties, large developments and hotel projects across the UK and overseas.
Jojo’s work features in the House & Garden List 2023 and The Expert, an online platform offering one to one design consultations with the world’s top designers. Jojo brings her expertise and experience in interiors to Furnishing Futures.
Nigel Lawmon is Chief Commercial Officer for Sephora UK, and supports Furnishing Futures with strategy and finance as treasurer. He has spent over 25 years in retail across multiple formats and categories in commercial and general management roles and brings his skills and experience to Furnishing Futures’ business development, financial planning and governance.