Furnishing Futures is a community project I am launching, after being deeply affected by seeing the impact of poverty on families I have worked with as a social worker. Furnishing Futures aims to fully furnish the homes of vulnerable families who are experiencing furniture poverty, which is when people are living without basic items of furniture such as flooring, curtains, beds or chairs. or without a washing machine, cooker, or other essential items.
The issue of furniture poverty isn’t widely known about and as I talked to more and more people, I realised how important it is that I raise awareness. As a social worker and a trained interior designer, I also realised that I have a unique combination of skills and experience to tackle the issue directly in a sensitive and practical way.
During the course of my work with families I have met families who don’t have beds for their children and whose makeshift beds on the floor don’t have proper bedding; people with no sofas to sit on, no flooring or curtains and pregnant women sleeping on floors. This is what austerity and changes to the benefit system has done to the most vulnerable and I am determined, in whatever small way I can, to use my knowledge and experience to change this through Furnishing Futures.
I realised I had this unique set of skills and knowledge as social worker and interior designer after I met too many women, through the course of my work, who had found the courage to flee domestic abuse, only to be moved with their children into empty flats with concrete floors, no electricity and no furnishings. Often they went back to the perpetrator because to have a warm home and to be able to cook a meal for their kids was more important than their own safety. It broke my heart and made me angry with the system.
Nearly half a million children in England don’t have their own bed, according to the Trussel Trust, but this is literally hidden behind closed doors. You wouldn’t know unless you work alongside those experiencing it or are one of those people affected.
I want every family to live in a home that is warm, safe and comfortable. No child or pregnant mother should have to sleep on the floor and we all deserve a safe and stable place to call home.
I will be collecting donations of unwanted furniture and saving it from landfill to give to families, partnering with furniture and interiors brands and creating a collective of interior designers, stylists and trades as well as volunteers, to tackle the need head on.
At the moment I am sourcing what I need for each family and developing my method of working. I am not taking donations as I am still looking for storage space, but I hope this will soon be in place.
Furnishing Futures is starting in the London Borough of Waltham Forest, but I hope that with the right support I can develop a model that I can expand to cover the whole of London and who knows, maybe even the whole of England. I have big dreams!
Read more about the project here.