Putting Furniture Poverty to Bed

Nick Oettinger, managing director at R&R Beds, comments on the rise of furniture poverty in the UK and how recycling schemes can help families in need of basic household furniture.

Getting home at the end of a long day and getting into bed for a well-earned rest – just one of the everyday activities not always possible for the 14 million UK families unable to afford one or more basic household goods like beds and mattresses.

This inability to purchase even the most basic of household items is known as furniture poverty; less conspicuous than fuel or food poverty but just as detrimental to everything from an individual’s sense of dignity to the ability to get a good night’s sleep.

The number of UK households struggling to cope with these poor living conditions has more than doubled over the last 20 years, with more and more families now living without basic amenities like washing machines, kettles, curtains, mattresses, beds and chairs.

The lack of ability to afford these basic items can have dire consequences for an individual’s quality of life and can even perpetuate the poverty in which they live.

Imagine, then, the difference that could be made to families living in relative poverty across the UK, if they could simply have access to a good quality mattress and get the restorative sleep that can make all the difference to their quality of life.

Due to budget restrictions, social housing organisations are simply not able to source and provide mattresses of a suitable quality in order to facilitate a good night’s sleep for people living in social housing.

R&R Beds, a Blackburn-based mattress manufacturer, is stepping in to offer its support through supplying local authorities, social housing groups, private landlords, charity groups and re-use organisations with high-quality mattresses.

R&R beds is currently working on projects with local recyclers, charities and public sector organisations to ensure everybody has access to a comfortable, durable mattress at home.  By making sure that old and unwanted mattresses aren’t simply thrown away, but recycled and the reusable parts made into brand new, superior quality products, we can ensure these are distributed to families who really need them.

One such project involves furniture reuse charity, Reuse Together, also based in Blackburn. With the aim of bringing a furniture recycling initiative to the region, the project contributes to the circular economy model, diverts products from landfill and offers cost-effective pre-used furniture items to families in need.

Reuse Together receives and recycles quality furniture, white goods, carpet tiles and other household items that would otherwise be disposed of, then offers them at affordable prices. From its head quarters in Glenfield Park, the company works with Together Housing Trust and Twin Valley Homes to identify those in need of furniture, and the appropriate re-usable items, diverting them from landfill, bringing both environmental and financial benefits.

A good day will only follow from a good night’s sleep and we believe excellent quality mattresses should not be restricted to only those with high levels of disposable income. It makes no sense to dispose of re-useable furniture, especially when we know that these items can be broken down and used to create brand new, superior quality products. With the recycling technology and capabilities we have today, there is absolutely no need for families to resort to sleeping on floors and makeshift surfaces when they could be sleeping on a comfortable bed.

Rather than just getting rid of unwanted furniture, we want to raise awareness of the recycling opportunities available to us and how the resulting products can be put to good use by someone in need. We know that over 7.5 million mattresses in the UK are sent to landfill every year, which, with a good recycling and re-use process, could be made use of and appreciated by families in need in the region and across the UK.

The public sector needs to step up efforts to identify and partner with more companies, charities, housing associations and recyclers to source good quality, affordable mattresses and beds for children and families living in furniture poverty. In doing so, they can help give these families the good night’s sleep they deserve and work towards ending furniture poverty in the UK.

For more information about R&R Beds or to discuss any requirements, please visit www.randrbeds.co.uk


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