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Guest Blog: End Furniture Poverty

  • 29/09/2020
  • Author:bridgetmccall

Claire Donovan tells us how her charity helps people who are experiencing furniture poverty

Man sitting in an armchair holding his baby

Imagine living without a bed to sleep on or a cooker to prepare your meals? This is experience of millions of people across the UK who live in Furniture Poverty.

End Furniture Poverty was created by FRC Group, a group of registered charities and social enterprises, (currently UK Social Enterprise of the Year), to:

  • Raise awareness of Furniture Poverty
  • Develop solutions to Furniture Poverty, and
  • Campaign and lobby for change.

Since the start of the year, our main focus has been examining the provision of furnished tenancies in the social housing sector. However, as the Covid-19 lockdown started to ease, we realised there were more urgent priorities.

Everybody Out?

'Everybody In' was the programme, led by the homelessness charity Crisis, to move thousands of homeless people off the streets and into emergency accommodation. It appeared that now there was a real opportunity to tackle homelessness and move people into homes - those that contain the essential furniture that people need for a basic standard of living.

We launched an online survey called 'Everybody Out' to ask people what was happening in their area and to find out whether furniture was being provided, and if so, how. We wanted to raise awareness of furniture provision and we also hoped we might find some innovative schemes that we could shout about to encourage others to do more. 

We did find one scheme in Liverpool where the local authority and social landlords have joined forces to offer permanent homes, all fully furnished, for hundreds of people who just months ago lived on the street. See Everybody Out - Liverpool Case Study for more information. 

Sadly, this seems to be a rare example. In most areas where properties are being provided, they are empty boxes with support workers working tirelessly to fill in grant applications, scour preloved furniture shops and seek donations to provide people with the furniture they so desperately need.

Our Guides

We realised the most useful course of action for us was to help these support workers find out where they could go to get furniture and white goods, so we produced our Finding Furniture & White Goods: A Guide for Support Workers. This is a detailed step-by-step guide which explains the different sources of support out there, who to approach first and how to do it. The Guide includes information on support available from landlords, Local Welfare Provision schemes, grant-giving charities, preloved furniture, affordable credit, and more. 

It is available on our website and we have now produced a second version, Guide to Finding Furniture & White Goods, aimed at individuals and families looking for furniture for themselves. These guides are living documents that we will be regularly updating and we welcome feedback.

Next Steps

Local Welfare Provision

We are now examining the provision of furniture through Local Welfare Provision schemes as many of those still operating are just focusing their funding on food and fuel poverty with no furniture provided. We have issued Freedom of Information requests (FOIs) to every local authority to understand this postcode lottery. Once we see where the gaps are, we can start to work to plug them. 

Furnished Tenancies research project

We hope our Furnished Tenancies research project will encourage social landlords to consider creating schemes providing furniture as part of a tenancy. These would be all paid for through the service charge on both Housing Benefit and Universal Credit.

We are also about to launch a campaign encouraging preloved white goods providers to offer 12-month warranties as standard.

Silver linings

We know there is still so much work to be done and Covid-19 has made the challenges so much harder. However, there are some silver linings.

The work in Liverpool between social landlords and the local authority is a new way of partnership working. The team there are now turning their attention to rehousing those affected by domestic violence, determined to build on their joint approach.

We have to work together to support the most vulnerable people in our society as we cannot do it alone. Together we can make a difference. Together we can End Furniture Poverty.

More information

For more information on our work or to get in touch to discuss partnership working, visit the End Furniture Poverty website. You can also sign up to our mailing list for regular updates.

Turn2us Grants Search

Some charities listed on our Grants Search may be able to help with essential furniture and white goods, depending on your background, circumstances and needs.

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