The Furniture Station has been passing on reusable furniture to low-income households in Stockport for 23 years. They’re an essential lifeline for thousands of families; supportive in times of crisis and in minimising household debt. Like many voluntary organisations across the UK, the Furniture Station is the only ethical alternative for families forced to rent-to-own household goods, or resort to payday lenders and loan sharks to buy the essentials.
The Furniture Station closes on 28th February 2018. For good.
Who knows if it’s yet another casualty of austerity and local authority budgetary pressures. Multiple factors will be at play.
However, the dynamics of government funding have shifted radically towards competitive commissioning and contract models, thereby reducing and even eliminating traditional forms of funding to the voluntary sector in the last few years. This will be part of the story.
And yet small and medium-sized charities like the Furniture Station are the unsung heroes in their communities, tackling disadvantage in multiple ways – and often `off-script’ – that the bigger charities, business and the public sector cannot.
Paradoxically, their smallness is their strength.
They’re flexible, innovative and highly responsive for meeting complex needs. They fill in the cracks which systems and contract specifics leave gaping. They’re specialists with local community knowledge. They provide enormous social and financial value to their local economy.
Unfortunately, they don’t have the budget to tell the rest of us about it.
Cue the Furniture Poverty Hub.
Furniture poverty organisations, like the Furniture Station, working to alleviate material poverty in Greater Manchester, are needed more than ever.
Tackling homelessness is a top priority for the region; in some poorer areas of Greater Manchester, over 40% of children are living in poverty, and austerity continues to impact upon household and public sector budgets.
These voluntary organisations are an essential resource and partner to meet the region’s many challenges and opportunities. They’re a unique social movement – whether they realise it or not – concerned with reducing debt, improving lives, inclusion and wellbeing; all important contributions as Devolution aims to transform the delivery of public health and social care services for the people of Greater Manchester.
There’s strength in numbers, of sharing good practice and ideas and having an advocate working on your behalf. Get in touch. Collaborate with your peers….