This is what I hope will be the first of a few follow-up posts to my rant about litter and fly-tipping. After I posted it, my friend Jane left a comment pointing out that good quality furniture can be collected by QSA homestore, who will sell it at bargain prices to people and familes who really need it. And this is all in Maryland, so on our doorsteps.
I was reminded of how brilliant this all is when I heard her speak recently at the Forest Gate Women’s Institute (surely the topic of a future post – such a great group of women). So I asked her if she might do a guest blog post about QSA, and the words were barely out of my mouth before she’d said yes, and written the post below:
Maryland-based furniture re-use project Homestore aims to divert good quality furniture from landfill and make it available alongside new beds and white goods, to families who would otherwise get into debt to afford it, or simply go without… here’s why.
In east London 45% families on a low income cannot afford to replace worn out furniture, and 23% lack one or more basic household goods such as a washing machine or a fridge, or even a bed.
Meanwhile, in the very same E7 neighbourhoods, often in the same street, you can see great quality furniture sitting out in the rain, getting ruined, putting pressure on the council’s (very excellent) bulky waste collection. While others are taking it to the tip, or paying people to dispose of it.
What a waste! Homestore wants to get into the middle of this, to join families across Forest Gate and other east London neighbourhoods in furniture and friendship. We will pick up, for free, good quality used furniture and make sure it gets to the families who would otherwise not be able to afford it.
In 2013/14, 2071 families saved a total of £192,493 by buying through Homestore. But the benefit is so much more than financial. Furniture changes how a family functions, how they feel about themselves, and their home. Our customers tell us:
“Now me and my children can sit and have meals at the table at the same time”
“A pile of clothes on the floor are now in a chest of drawers”.
One family simply state: “We stopped sleeping on the floor”.
Furniture has effects way beyond just being somewhere to sit, or sleep. It can change a future, change a family, change how you feel. Our referral agents tell us that furnishing a new place affordably increases the likelihood of successful tenancies, and keeps people from getting into problem debt through doorstep lenders, or high interest weekly payment schemes. Customer Michaela tells us with pride how, for the first time in years, she cooked a Sunday dinner her whole family to come over and share.
This feel-good effect is not just one-way. Four in five of the 2,441 people around east London who donated unwanted furniture this year did so for “charitable or moral reasons”, it is great feeling like part of the community.
At Homestore we like to think we have created a circle of benefit! We don’t sell furniture for a profit to fund other projects, our sole aim is to help those locally on a low income create a family home. In doing this we save donors fees and faff, and they feel great; our volunteer drivers, office workers and store workers gain experience, references and training, and often move on into paid work, Oh and the planet has a little less waste to deal with.
It’s all good!
What can you do to help? Well, one – or all – of these four things:
- Donate unwanted good quality furniture. Find out what we take, and book a pick up here: www.quakersocialaction.com/homestore
- Volunteer time at our Maryland store. www.quakersocialaction.com/volunteer
- Tell someone (everyone) at work, at school, in your book club, at brownies about Homestore!
- If you don’t have the time, the networks or the furniture to give, then money is always good too. We subsidise our prices. Those referred to Homestore pay as little as £10 for a table and £30 for a sofa.
(It’s Rachel again now) It’s as simple as that. A big thanks to Jane for supplying more information about this great local resource. Also, if you are involved in a community organisation or event that you want to showcase via our blog then do get in touch with us.
More info / posts to come on other ways to help make our streets look better….