When senior project worker Amanda Noor needed some furniture for one of her vulnerable clients, she approached the Furniture Donation Network team for help
Amanda works on the Independent Floating Support Service at DISC (‘Developing initiatives supporting communities’), a charity organisation which provides a service to marginalised people across the North West of England. DISC leads the Lancashire Floating Support Partnership, a service that works with twelve other schemes across the region to support people to live independently in their communities.
The service was established in October 2007 and, with funding from the Lancashire Supporting People Programme - administered by Lancashire County Council – supports a wide variety of marginalised and vulnerable people in the community.
Amanda’s client Noel was referred to DISC by Sleap an emergency support service for young homeless people in Leyland. Noel had been homeless for a number of years, spending a year in an adult homeless shelter in London. Noel was told he would probably never secure permanent accommodation in London and, after much thought, he decided to return to the North of England to be near his mother, sister and aunt. While staying with a local family on the Sleap Project, Noel managed to secure his own flat with social housing association Places for People.
When Amanda went to visit Noel in his new accommodation, she found him in a heartbreaking state. Noel was living without furniture or carpet, spending the nights in a sleeping bag on the bare floorboards and struggling to get by, with just two pounds left on his gas and electricity meter. He had borrowed thirty pounds from his sister but had given her the money back as soon as he had received his benefits. Now he was living on nothing and the flat was so cold that Amanda was able to see her own breath. The only comment from Noel was that he couldn’t believe his luck in finally getting a roof over his head and somewhere safe to sleep.
Amanda kept thinking about Noel. Over the next few days, she talked with her colleagues and found out about the support offered to vulnerable people by Recycling Lives and Furniture Donation Network.
By this point, Amanda had succeeded in securing a Community Care Grant to help Noel get back on his feet. She decided to help Noel get the best possible deal for his still limited funds and rang Recycling Lives Operations and Training Manager Neil Flanagan in the hope of getting in touch with the Furniture Donation Network team. Amanda explained Noel’s story and hoped that she would be able to find a couple of items to start him on the way to furnishing his flat with reusable furniture.
Neil, who is responsible for interviewing all potential Recycling Lives Residents when they are referred to the organisation, prides himself on learning the story of every vulnerable person he comes into contact with. Although Noel needed the help of the Furniture Donation Network, rather than the Recycling Lives residential programme, it was no different. Neil suggested that Noel visit him at the Furniture Donation Network warehouse, where he could show him round and help him to select the items of furniture he most needed for his home, the items were also delivered to his home within the budget Noel had.
A few days later, Amanda received a text from Noel, asking her to visit him in his flat. When Amanda arrived, she was barely able to believe the change. She recalls that “Noel was standing in the middle of his flat looking very pleased with himself, surrounded by the furniture that he’d so desperately needed.
Noel had visited the Furniture Donation Network warehouse with a long shopping list of items that he needed for his new home and Neil had been there to meet him when he arrived. Showing Noel around the Furniture Donation Network warehouse, Neil had helped him to pick out a number of items of furniture for his new home.
Standing in Noel’s newly carpeted flat, Amanda was thrilled to see the two-seater sofa, dining table, coffee table, double mattress and bed base, fridge freezer and electric cooker that Noel’s money had bought him at Furniture Donation Network. All of the items were in an excellent condition and had been thoroughly cleaned before being delivered to Noel.
The future’s looking bright for Noel now. He has a comfortable flat that he can call home, and has been researching the possibility of doing an apprenticeship in the catering industry. Neil Flanagan has also been in touch with the Recycling Lives training department in the hope of arranging some vocational and preparation for employment training for Noel as he works his way back to employment.
The hope is that, with enough support, Noel – and the thousands of people like him, who have been forgotten or pushed aside by society – will start to realise their own potential. Both the Furniture Donation Network and Recycling Lives teams are proud to have worked with DISC to make a real difference to Noel’s life and wish him all success in the future.
Need help or know someone who does? Take a look at the Recycling Lives website to find out more.