Making a Difference by Furnishing Futures

Helping women in challenging situation through decorating.



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Offering women and their children who find themselves in challenging life situations a beautifully decorated home is an act of kindness that is changing lives. To meet this need, London-based Emily Wheeler started Furnishing Futures, an organization that provides basic furniture items together with cozy home decor to liven up cold and dreary temporary residences. The initiative was born after Wheeler encountered women and children fleeing domestic abuse or other difficulties who were forced to leave their homes and start over
with limited resources.

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Providing hope and restoring confidence
According to the organization’s website less than 2% of social housing in the UK is furnished. Furnishing Futures restores the humanity and pride of the women who reside in these makeshift places, and helps them create a home where their families can live comfortably and break the cycle of poverty. The decorated homes make it less likely that the women will return to their original unsafe living environments.

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“Not many people realize that social housing is completely unfurnished. That doesn’t just mean no furniture; it means no white goods, no flooring, no window coverings – literally empty shells. People think that if you’re given housing and you’ve got a roof over your head that the problem is solved, but really, it’s just the beginning,” Wheeler told the Evening Standard.

Putting an to furniture poverty
Real Homes reported about a concept Wheeler calls ‘furniture poverty’. “It’s when people cannot afford or access basic items that most of us would take for granted such as a bed, sofa, dining table and chairs or even a fridge or oven. Living without furniture causes enormous stress and takes its toll mentally and physically. People can’t sleep well without a proper bed to sleep in, so they’re tired at work or at school; you can’t have friends over for a meal or to socialize and you can never relax. It can be extremely depressing for people and impacts all other areas of their lives,” she explained.

Wheeler, who trained as a social worker, currently works as a Child Protection Conference Chair, assisting families at risk. After having her own children, she took a career break and trained and later worked as an interior designer, before returning to social work. Recognizing how much a decorated home could be a source of hope for these families, Wheeler began to collect donations from furniture companies and collaborate with other designers to furnish women’s homes. 

According to the Waltham Forest Echo, future plans for Wheeler include creating an initiative that can provide support for families through partnering with authorities and service providers, and possibly running an interior design shop that would generate funds to keep the project running. For now, her immediate goals are finding storage space for the furniture she has collected.  

In a short time, Furnishing Futures has impacted the lives of many women and their families during the most trying of times, helping them restore their pride and self-respect. 

On the Furnishing Futures website you can read heartwarming feedback from women like Sarah, who has benefited from their services: “I just want to say a big thank you to Furnishing Futures for helping me and my children make our house a home. My daughter said they have made us feel happy and warm.”

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