The U.K. has one of the fastest-growing populations in the world, but nearly 40% of citizens do not have access to basic items. Furniture poverty in the U.K. is prevalent with over 14 million families living without basic furniture or in fear of not being able to replace or repair an appliance. Children come home from school without a table to do homework at, parents leave a hard day’s work with no bed to come home to and families have no couch to spend time together on.
Social landlords and government authorities are beginning to work together to end furniture poverty in the U.K. and rehouse people in need. Until the U.K. hones policies to account for the low quality of living that comes with furniture poverty and work to help struggling families furnish their homes, several organizations have a commitment to getting these families the items they need to feel normal.
5 Organizations Ending Furniture Poverty in the UK
- End Furniture Poverty: End Furniture Poverty is an organization that the FRC group created, which has a dedication to raising awareness and eliminating furniture poverty in the U.K. FRC is a charity in Liverpool that has been working to reduce and eradicate furniture poverty for over 30 years. The organization’s goal is to provide basic comforts to all citizens and raise awareness of the prevalence of furniture poverty. Encouraging people to find new lives for their old furniture rather than send it to a landfill is a step in the right direction.
- R&R Beds: R&R Beds is a mattress manufacturer that prevents mattresses from being sent to landfills. Instead, the mattresses can go to families in furniture poverty or retailers can recycle them into high-quality mattresses and sell them at affordable prices. Every year in the U.K., over 7.5 million mattresses end up in landfills when millions of people go without beds to sleep on. R&R gives these materials new life. These mattresses give struggling families a sense of comfort and the gift of a good night’s sleep. R&R partners with recyclers, charities and social organizations to retrieve used mattresses and provide new ones to those most in need.
- Orbit Housing Association: Most residences discard all furniture that previous tenants leave behind. However, the Orbit Housing Association offers furnished tenancies and leaves certain items for new tenants to use such as curtains or carpets. By salvaging abandoned items rather than scrapping them, the association saves low-income families from living without furniture or diving into debt to furnish their homes. Keeping furniture for incoming tenants is cost neutral and reduces the workload of the company’s maintenance team. This practice allows them to provide these furnished residencies for an extremely low fee that goes on the tenant’s monthly rent.
- Homestore: A fixture in East London, this secondhand store has been providing affordable furniture to low-income families since 1989. People donate good quality furniture and white goods such as fridges and other large electrical appliances. By only selling to disadvantaged people, Homestore is a saving grace for many families living in discomfort. The average price of an item at a furniture store is $72.96. On the other hand, at Homestore, the average price is only $19.65 offering significant savings.
- Community Furniture Aid: Based in Wales, Community Furniture Aid is a charity that accepts second-hand furniture and uses it to create ‘starter packs’ for families that need furniture. Volunteers run the company and the company can minimize expenses to provide packs at no cost to the families. It even stores donated items in an unused church without utilities. This is an example of how it takes every possible step to provide families with comfort at no cost to them.
Ending furniture poverty in the U.K. may not be the foremost struggle in the world, but without a sturdy mattress or a working fridge, it becomes hard for people to lead normal lives and be successful. For example, many consider items like tables, couches, dressers, stoves and washing machines essential for people to feel comfortable in their homes. It gives them the confidence to pull themselves out of poverty.
– Veronica Booth
Photo: Wikipedia Commons