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Home Comfort: furnishing homes for vulnerable people in Huddersfield

Home Comfort: furnishing homes for vulnerable people in Huddersfield

Home Comfort: furnishing homes for vulnerable people in Huddersfield

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

In June 2017, Amy from Huddersfield Mission came to the Ideas Board with a simple idea: to provide basic home furnishing packs to vulnerable people starting a new tenancy.

The idea of Home Comfort was in response to a policy change by the local council – they were no longer providing furniture and white goods to people starting new tenancies. For tenants with little or no furniture, the only option was to borrow funds to buy essentials – or do without. Clients who could get a loan were often already on a very low income with other debts, and would have to wait weeks to get furniture.
 
As well as making clients’ homes more liveable, Huddersfield Mission had a bigger belief with Home Comfort: that if people were helped to furnish their new tenancies, they had a much bigger chance of keeping their tenancy long term and were less likely to get into more debt (by borrowing money to pay for furniture, for example). We offered them a grant of £1,000 and asked them to report back on how they got on.

Kitting out the homes

After receiving our grant, Huddersfield Mission worked in partnership with local food bank, The Welcome Centre, negotiating low rates with a local furniture charity for essential furniture, white goods and delivery charges. The Welcome Centre also provided home-starter packs of kitchen essentials, bedding and towels. 
 
The pilot project offered eleven people (five households) £100-200 to choose furniture items they needed to make their new tenancy a home. The amount was flexible so that it could help clients who urgently needed more expensive items, like white goods. 

From thought to action

Home Comfort helped a range of people in different situations. The first pack of assorted furniture went to a couple in their twenties who’d managed to secure a flat after a period of rough sleeping, helping their flat to feel like a home. A second pack went to a customer who’d had a long period of no income due to benefit issues and being forced on to Universal Credit. It meant that she could move her elderly, unwell mother into her home and provide the care she needed.
 
“The furniture made the flat feel like home. We came from living on the streets to moving into a flat with nothing, and that’s where your charity helped us a lot. Thank you very much for everything.” 
 
Home Comfort also helped a man in his thirties on a very low income. He had shared custody of his three children, but not enough beds for them to stay overnight. The pack meant that all his children could now stay with their dad at weekends and in the holidays. The fourth pack helped a man with severe mental health issues who’d moved into a flat after a period of rough sleeping. And a final Home Comfort pack helped a couple who were expecting a baby to furnish their apartment, so that they were no longer sleeping on the floor.
 
The seed of something bigger
 
Our Ideas Fund enabled Huddersfield Mission to launch Home Comfort as a pilot project, helping to change the lives of five households. Better still, a private donor contributed a further £1,000 after seeing the results of the project – so it’s not over yet. 
 
If you have an idea for a project that could help someone facing homelessness or housing issues, please tell us about it.
 
Since we initially spoke with Amy, she has been in touch to say “Our board has agreed to give us a further £5,000 for the year from it's reserves so the scheme is able to help 2-3 households a month. We will be looking for further funding to keep up with the demand.” 

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