The program, run by the Big Lottery and ITV, awards up to £50,000 to selected projects based on a public phone vote following coverage of the project on ITV Westcountry News.
Cornish Reuse Centres RE:SOURCE, SOFA and GOFA, have joined forces to promote their project Starting Out; an initiative which will help homeless people in Cornwall by providing much needed furniture starter packs that include reused items like cookers, sofas, beds, table & chairs, crockery & curtains. This pack will allow people to move into unfurnished properties and make the best start in their new home.
The Starting Out Project will be unique to the UK as it will encourage people who receive starter packs to participate in supported volunteering activity at one of the reuse centres. This will make a significant contribution to increasing the centre‘s capacity and give the beneficiary an opportunity to take part in accredited training aimed at helping them back in to work.
Although homelessness is not often regarded as a big issue for Cornwall’s residents, in the last three months the number of homeless in Cornwall has risen by 72% and with the South West recognising the biggest increase in home repossessions, at almost double the national average, this figure is set to rise.
Not having access to essential furniture and appliances acts as a barrier for many to moving into vacant, but unfurnished, permanent accommodation. The cost of buying furniture to furnish a home was estimated in 2005 by the Halifax Estate Agents to be £3,751 just for ‘essentials’. Covering this cost is impossible for a household whose income just covers rent, food and bills.
Alan Lethbridge, Operations Manager at the RE:SOURCE centre said:
“Homelessness does not begin and end with people who are sleeping rough. It incorporates those sleeping in cars, on friends’ floors or sofas and those living in temporary accommodation such as hostels, refuges and B&Bs. There are also many reasons for becoming homeless, from domestic disputes to losing a job and the issue can effect anyone: young, old, individuals and families.”
Alan went on to say:
“The reuse centres try very hard to support low income households by providing affordable furniture and appliances. We really want to be in a position to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in society but the challenge we face is in meeting these needs and ensuring the centres’ long term financial sustainability. People’s Millions offers us a fantastic opportunity to secure funding for the county to help tackle one of Cornwall’s growing issues.”
The Starting Out Project will go head to head with a Plymouth based arts project on November 26th. Voting will start from 9am and the number will be available on the day from watching ITV Westcountry news bulletins, in the Daily Mirror or by visiting www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/peoplesmillions. People with emails can sign up for a reminder to vote at the RE:SOURCE website www.myresource.org.uk where they will also find more information on the project.