Where to donate furniture to the homeless?
Whether it is your parent’s old bedside table, that unwanted TV stand, or a set of shelves that never really fitted in, we all have old furniture that we have been meaning to get rid of for a long time. For most of us that means either a trip down to the tip or getting in touch with the council to arrange a pick-up. But do you ever stop and think that this furniture could be donated to charity?
According to the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce (RSA), each year the UK throws away approximately 672,000 tonnes of furniture. It recommends that over half of this could be re-used. For example, only 17% of unwanted sofas are re-purposed, with the remainder going to landfill. With so many individuals struggling to keep a roof over their heads, let alone afford new furniture, going to the tip should come secondary to us all when it comes to deciding what to do with old furniture.
Our perception is that all homeless people sleep rough, and therefore have nowhere to store or fully utilise any furniture given to them. However, rough sleeping is just one categorisation of homelessness. Hidden homelessness is those who are entitled to housing assistance, but never approach their local councils for help. These people often stay in hostels, squats, B&Bs or on the floors and sofas of friends and family homes. Then there are those who may have a roof over their heads currently but are at risk of homelessness.
These may not be the sides of homelessness that we think of, but they can be as equally devastating and impactful to the individuals experiencing it. For these groups, the offer of furniture can be vital. Centrepoint is one example of a homelessness charity that directly passes on furniture donations to the young people that it supports. It is important to note that Centrepoint only accepts good quality furniture as the charity wants all young people to know that they are valued and for the gifts that they receive from supporters to help them grow in confidence and their sense of self-worth.
However, if you don’t feel the furniture that you have is good enough quality to directly donate, then don’t be put off as you can still make a real difference. There are a great number of homeless charities, and more charities in general, that would happily accept your unwanted furniture. Emmaus is a homeless charity that relies on donations of furniture and other goods to keep their business going. As a result of these donations, charities are able to resell the furniture and raise vital funds to support homeless individuals.
If you do find yourself in the position of wanting to donate old furniture then as a starting point it is worth looking up charities local to you to understand whether they accept furniture donations or not. It is important to read closely what they do and don’t accept and also to establish whether that charity will collect the furniture from you or whether you need to drop it off yourself.
Not just exclusively homeless organisations, but examples of charities that offer home collection services include Sue Ryder, British Heart Foundation, Emmaus, DEBRA, Red Cross, and Shelter. The Reuse Network is another great way to donate unwanted furniture. You can look at their website to find a reuse centre near you of which some charities will come and collect unwanted furniture from your house.
So next time you have any furniture that you are looking to get rid of, please consider whether you could donate it and help improve the lives of others. Your parents' old bedside table may be given the new lease of life it deserves!