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Domestic abuse survivors’ homes to be professionally furnished in pilot scheme

After Living Room

A new partnership between housing association Peabody, the London Borough of Waltham Forest and charity Furnishing Futures, will see the organisations working in partnership to create professionally designed, fully furnished homes for domestic abuse survivors.

Published: 05/12/2023


Many survivors flee abusive relationships with nothing, worried about the future and potentially facing furniture poverty. With minimal finances, vulnerable families must choose between living without furniture or taking out expensive loans.

This scheme will provide safe, affordable, and ready-furnished homes for survivors to move into and rebuild their lives.

In the pilot, Peabody will offer homes to three households who have fled domestic abuse and applied for Waltham Forest social housing after living in refuge accommodation.

Peabody will paint and provide flooring for the homes. Furnishing Futures will work with the resident to design and furnish their new home with white goods, furniture, and soft furnishings, at no cost to them.

The Furnishing Futures team have unique backgrounds in both support work and interior design. They work with residents to find out exactly what they need to make their home as comfortable as possible, while being mindful of their past traumas. They use furniture donated by their contacts in the interior design industry and supporters of the charity. In doing so, they saved 36,000kg of unwanted furniture from landfill last year alone – saving residents money and protecting the environment. 

To date, Furnishing Futures has helped 88 women and children across the capital get back on their feet. They have also supported a further 43 women and children through their work in furnishing and redecorating women’s refuges.

Anya, who was helped by the charity, said: “I met Furnishing Futures during a very difficult time in my life; I was ending a decade-long abusive relationship. Thankfully I was given a beautiful home to escape to safety, but it was empty as I couldn’t take anything from my marital home. I had to start again from scratch, sleeping on air beds and eating off paper plates.

“Furnishing Futures came to my aid and looked after me, providing essential items at first. They were patient, even when I didn't know what I needed or what I liked. They furnished the whole flat, so it’s beautiful, cosy and feels like home. I started with nothing but now I can provide a safe environment for my daughters. I don't know what I’d do without their help.”

Furnishing Futures has also partnered with local women’s refuges; specialist domestic abuse service providers; baby banks and food banks and has developed relationships with some of the UK’s best known interiors brands, stylists, and designers.

The team is always looking for more donations and volunteers. Further information can be found on their website.

Elly Hoult, Chief Operating Officer at Peabody, said: “In controlling relationships, survivors often have their choices taken away from them. This pilot will support survivors to raise their self-esteem and give them say in how they furnish their new homes at no extra cost.

“We always want to make sure we’re supporting residents’ health and happiness by providing a safe, comfortable home. This new partnership will help three vulnerable families fleeing unsafe relationships and homes get back on their feet in their own safe haven. We’re looking forward to getting started and hope to expand the project in future.”

Emily Wheeler, Founder and CEO of Furnishing Futures, said: “When women escape domestic abuse, they often leave all their belongings behind, without access to finances.

“Starting again in an empty flat without flooring, white goods or furniture can feel impossible. In many cases, children sleep on floors and there’s no oven for a home-cooked meal or washing machine to keep clothes clean.

“Creating a beautiful, well-designed home that’s equipped with everything a woman needs saves lives. Survivors can recover from a place of safety, without the need to return to an unsafe place due to lack of resources. It also reduces financial hardship, in-turn raising self-esteem and improving wellbeing.

“We’re delighted that Peabody recognises the life changing impact of our work in creating healing homes for women. We hope our partnership continues so that this support becomes the benchmark for survivors' housing."

Cllr Ahsan Khan, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration, said: “We are committed to working to prevent domestic abuse and reduce the harm it causes to individuals, families, and communities. All our work on violence against women and girls is informed by the lived experiences of survivors impacted by violence.

"This is an innovative partnership that will make a real difference to people in their time of need. It is also helping save the environment - Waltham Forest is committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2030 and by working together to reduce the amount of furniture sent to landfills allows products to be used to their fullest.”

Get help and access to support services

Waltham Forest Council hold Violence Against Women and Girls drop-in sessions Monday to Friday in our Family Hubs across the borough. Here you can speak to a specialist worker who can offer support and advice, no appointment needed. You do not need to have a child to access this service. For more information, please visit their website.

You can also call Waltham Forest Solace Women’s Aid on 07340 683382 or visit their website for advice and support

If you are worried about your own behaviour and think you might be at risk of hurting your partner or family, contact the Respect Helpline on 0808 802 4040. It is confidential and free to call or visit the Respect website.

To find a full list of local, regional, and national support services please visit our website.

 

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