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Furniture Projects Help Low Income Families Furnish Homes

12th April 2008

Study Reveals Social, Economic and Environmental Benefits

Scottish furniture reuse projects helped more than 105,000 people - more than half from low income families - furnish their homes last year, according to a major new study from Scotland's national community recycling body.

The study, carried out annually by The Community Recycling Network for

Scotland (CRNS), revealed that as well helping people to move out of poverty, furniture reuse projects have a host of additional benefits.

Last year these initiatives helped to divert more than 14,000 tonnes of furniture and essential household appliances from landfill, saving 60,000 tonnes of CO2 - the equivalent of taking over 19,000 cars off Scotland's roads.

CRNS is the membership organisation for community based recycling and reuse organisations. It is supported by the Scottish Government to work with the country's 57 locally based furniture projects, as well as to provide support to local authorities and other housing providers to help them access the services provided by the furniture projects.

Furniture projects are charitable organisations that provide basic household goods, such as furniture, appliances, carpets and other essential items, to people who would not otherwise be able to afford them.

Last year the sector's turnover rose to 10million, from 8million in 2006, and the number of service users rose to 105,500 from 68,950 respectively.

2007 saw 18 out of Scotland's 32 local authorities working with furniture projects to supply furniture to their homeless tenants.

Communities and Sport Minister Stewart Maxwell said: "The Scottish Government supports the work of the Community Recycling Network for Scotland in highlighting the important role re-cycling projects play in helping low income families and those re-settling after homelessness to furnish their homes.

"That is why we have made a commitment to help fund a National Furniture Re-use Projects Co-ordinator based at the Re-cycling Network.

"These projects not only help people on low incomes access furniture and household goods to turn a house into home, but are also an excellent example of community recycling. Last year the charity diverted 14,000 tonnes of unwanted goods from landfill, while helping over 100,000 individuals across the country."

CRNS Network Director Iain Gulland said: "Although many furniture projects have been around since the 1980s, the sector only had the capacity to provide assistance to 30,000 people in 2003.

"Since then, there has been a major ramping up of capacity and an increase in efficiency partly due to projects working more closely together and sharing best practice as well as better coordination and representation of furniture projects by the CRNS.

"As a result, the sector was able to help over 100,000 people last year.

"Around one third of people who need assistance with furniture are moving into a new house after a period of homelessness and need help to furnish their tenancy. Last year, the sector helped almost 30,000 people in this situation, helping them turn their house into a home.

"This is a great leap forward for the sector, which is helping to plug a huge gap in the market by providing good quality furniture to people, many of who are trying to move out of poverty.

"Not only do furniture reuse projects provide an essential service to those in need, they are also great news for the environment. For every tonne of furniture or appliances reused, 4.2 tonnes of CO2 are saved.

"In 2007 14,000 tonnes of furniture and appliances were donated to furniture projects by the general public and businesses, which equates to a total CO2 saving of over 59,500 tonnes. This equates to taking nearly 19,000 cars of the road in Scotland.

"Local authorities are fundamental to this success and I would like to see more of them coming on board and throwing their support behind furniture reuse projects in their areas. These encouraging results are also testament to the tireless efforts of the countless workers and volunteers who help to make these projects succeed across the country."

Furniture projects also provided almost 900 training placements and 1,300 volunteering opportunities to people across Scotland.

In Caithness the local furniture recycling project is called HomeAid. They have two shops - one in Thurso and one In Wick. Recent expansions led to a name change from HomeAid Caithness to "HomeAid Caithness & Sutherland"
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