Homestarter Initiative

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.    

One of our Homestarter scheme managers shares how the scheme first started:

‘Our Birmingham service called to ask for a single bed for a lady who had been in a hostel for eight months. She had been given a new flat, but she had no bed. I got a bed, and gathered up a duvet, pillows and some bedding just in case.

‘The driver came back visibly shaken and upset, saying the lady had nothing. He said 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.

‘We quickly gathered together a sofa, a coffee table, wardrobe, chest of drawers, table and chairs, some cutlery, pans and some bits of crockery. I jumped on the van with the driver and we set off. The look on the lady’s face, as she heard what we had for her, will stay with me forever. She was our first client and definitely the most profound.’

Shelter Homestarter scheme manager

Michael was helped by our Sunderland furniture shop:

‘I was living in a Sunderland council place, but I’d just split up with my partner and things were tough. My mental health wasn’t great, so I needed somewhere for myself to live.  

'I was in the hostel for about four weeks and it was tough. I didn’t have my own shower or place to get washed in. I just had a room, but it did for the time being because without it I’d have been on the streets. Even so I found it hard in there. 

‘Shelter lobbied on my behalf to find me somewhere to live and the council listened to them and came up with something. When I moved into the new place it was unfurnished. I went to Shelter, and they helped us out with everything. Shelter put the application in for goods and furniture from the council but the chairs, TV, cabinets, stuff like that – they all came from Shelter. And it only took about a week to get it sorted. It was champion.    

'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, Sunderland