When people donate homeware and furniture to any of our nine charity furniture shops across England and Scotland, we’ll use some of it to create Homestarter Kits. Every week, our staff work with our local advice hubs to identify people who have experienced bad housing and homelessness and need furniture for their new home. This could be a new sofa, items for a child’s bedroom, or a fridge. We help supply essentials to help build a home.
Shop manager Sally remembers a call-out that stayed with her:
Sally is the shop manager for our West Bromwich furniture store. She remembers being at work when the scheme first got going.
The team needed to deliver a single bed for a lady who had been in a hostel for eight months. Though the lady had been given a new flat, she didn’t have a bed. So, the van driver picked one up (along with some bedding) and made his way over to the flat to deliver it.
However, what he reported back to Sally was shocking:
‘The driver came back visibly shaken and upset. The lady had nothing. She had a baby, who was about six months old asleep in the pushchair, and there was a baby bath on the kitchen floor. And that was it. Literally it. Nothing else.’
The team quickly gathered as many other essentials as were available: a sofa, a coffee table, wardrobe, chest of drawers, table and chairs, cutlery, pans and crockery. They jumped in the van and set off back to the lady’s flat.
This lady happened to be Sally’s first client, and she remembers the look on her face when they showed her what they had brought her – it will stay with her forever.
Michael went from an empty room to a furnished home
Michael is someone who received support from the Homestarter scheme.
When Michael’s relationship broke down, he had to move out of his council flat and needed somewhere else to live. He found a hostel to stay in for four weeks. It was just a room and he didn’t have his own place to wash there, but he knew it was better than being on the streets. Despite this, it was tough being there - his mental health was suffering.
‘Shelter lobbied on my behalf to find me somewhere to live, and finally the council listened and offered me somewhere more permanent.’
When Michael moved into the new place it was unfurnished. But with Shelter’s help, an application was put in for goods and furniture from the council. Then the Homestarter team dealt with anything missing, offering Michael chairs, a TV and cabinets, so the flat started to feel more like a home.
Michael says: ‘I’m alright now…I’m slowly getting back on my feet. I’m doing some of the jobs in Shelter now to see if anyone needs help out there like I did. I’m doing anything I can to give something back to the community. It feels good. Shelter has helped me out and there’re other people who need help now.’
Michael is just one person who benefited from the work of the Homestarter scheme, to get much-needed furniture and homeware to the people who desperately need it.