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Furniture bank and Territorial Army centre plans for Barking and Dagenham

PUBLISHED: 13:00 06 July 2013

Garage project, a similar project in Havering that takes furniture donations.

Garage project, a similar project in Havering that takes furniture donations.

Archant

Two abandoned council buildings could turn into a depot for second-hand furniture and the borough’s first Territorial Army centre if plans go ahead.

The council unveiled plans recently to use Woodward Road Library as a furniture bank; a centre where donated furniture and household items are distributed to people in need.

There are various ways this could operate but generally this type of service offers discounts to council tenants and those on a low income or benefits, as well as for disabled people, pensioners, ex-offenders and students.

The idea is also to train people to repair and refurbish items of furniture.

A council report, presented to the cabinet on June 25, states: “Current government policies and welfare reforms have reduced the income of families and their ability to spend money on larger furniture items which tend to be most costly.”

Local third sector organisation DABD has proposed to run the furniture bank and hopes to have it running by October.

DABD’s CEO Lesley Hawes said: “In difficult times when residents are struggling more than ever to make ends meet, we feel that the furniture bank initiative will make a huge different to the lives of local people.”

There are already three furniture banks operating in the borough – Homestore, the Volunteer Bureau and the Salvation Army – but demand is outstripping supply of furniture.

In addition, the council looks to save money as it will scrap the money it spends on furniture grants from the Local Emergency Support Scheme (it spent £23,240 in May 2013), and save the £1,300 spent every year on sending furniture from council property clearances to landfill.

Meanwhile the Territorial Army has approached the council to establish a centre in the borough, with an eye on taking over the old Rectory Library.

The report states: “A TA centre would provide training to local residents, improving their skills which can be applied to many aspects of their lives.”


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