North East charities tackling “bed poverty” so that children don’t have to sleep on the floor

Children across the North East are falling asleep without their own beds in the UK epidemic known as “bed poverty”.

Bed poverty is a new term used to describe a situation where a child does not have their own bed to sleep in, which appears to be a growing problem for low income families across the UK.

Reports from the children’s charity Buttle UK show that 30% of low-income families struggled to afford beds for their children in 2020.

Find the latest parenting updates from across the Northeast here

To solve furniture poverty, charities have sprung up across the UK offering furniture at affordable prices or, in some cases, free of charge.

Bex Wilson, an elementary school teacher from Leeds, recently made headlines when she provided 1,400 bed mattresses to families in need across town through her Zarach charity.

But also charities in the northeast and the search for beds are increasing.

Brett Routledge, warehouse operational of the Gateshead-based charity Foundation Furniture, which provides free or cheap furniture to families and those in need across the district, said the charity would receive “biweekly” requests for beds, including from distressed parents.



Brett Routledge of the Foundation Furniture Project on the Teams, Gateshead
Brett Routledge of the Foundation Furniture Project on the Teams, Gateshead

“Beds are one of the most sought-after pieces of furniture because they are expensive to buy and yet essential,” said Brett.

“Parents often look for a single bed or mattress for their child – and it is quite common for families and children to sleep on the floor for long periods of time because, for various reasons, they don’t have their own bed.

“Sometimes children sleep on an old mattress on the floor because parents can’t afford a frame, so we provide them with one.”

Brett said some of the families in need of cribs the most are victims of domestic violence who have been forced to flee with their children, leaving all their belongings behind, as well as refugees or asylum seekers.

Most of the beds and mattresses provided by Foundations Furniture are free, but delivery is £ 10 to cover fuel costs.

All donated mattresses must pass quality tests before being given to those in need.

“I think the parents who come to us are in such dire need that any pride or shame is put aside, knowing that they must do what is best for the children and give them a warm and comfortable place to stay Offer sleep so that they can go to school rested and satisfied. “

Orange Box North East, a non-profit community lead organization, provides affordable furniture and household items to low-income people across the Northeast.

The charity operates out of its warehouses in Byker and Alnwick, but promotes and sells its items through its Facebook page.

Orange Box director Irene Brown said that while most people are aware of food poverty, furniture poverty affects many low-income families, many of whom want beds for their homes.

“Beds and white goods sometimes sell within four seconds of putting them on Facebook,” says Irene. “We never have a bed for more than a few days, you are so in demand.”

Irene said the organization’s only goal is to keep furniture costs down in order to help people living under furniture poverty.

“We have a lot of parents who come to us. But these are not just unemployed parents, we often have to deal with mothers and fathers who are permanently employed, but have a low income or are in need.

“On our first day when I opened the warehouse in Alnwick, I had a mother who was in dire need of a bed for her child, and we still see it pretty regularly.

“Alnwick is a more affluent area than Byker, but we have found that we are still getting a similar number of people who need our services, which shows that this is a problem across the Northeast.

“We also have cots and cribs and normal mattresses in stock to help parents in need.

“Our mattresses start at £ 10 and it costs £ 5 for a cot.

“Charities like ours have had to raise costs in the past due to funding cuts, but we’ve tried to keep ours as affordable as possible.”

North East Child Poverty Commission director Amanda Bailey said the rise in family furniture poverty was due to the government’s “withdrawal of funding,” saying charities like Orange Box and Foundations Furniture needed to be strengthened and ” Replace the support that was taken away. “

“For most of us, our refrigerator failure due to unexpected costs would be painful, but not a total crisis. For some families, however, that would be enough to start a spiral of total disaster, “said Amanda.

“Things like beds and white goods are big purchases, but where do you get it from when every cent has been budgeted for groceries, bills and fuel costs.

“This can have really serious long-term implications, including putting parents in debt to afford this item or ending expensive loan programs.

“The government recognizes that the cost of living is a major challenge as it has introduced hardship funds and temporary emergency grants given by local authorities, but people don’t always know about it or how to apply.



A plastic-covered mattress in a warehouse
A mattress donated to Orange Box North East

“I find it worrying that families in need are relying on these grants to buy basic necessities like food, fuel and essential furniture like beds, while the country has a functioning social security system that provides a real safety net for families apparently nonexistent Otherwise you wouldn’t have to have these emergency funds to ensure that the families can get by. “

Amanda said that while there are government support programs that can help families buy furniture when they live in public housing, there is little support for those living in the private rental sector other than the local charity that deals with furniture poverty deals.

“Because there is not enough social housing, more and more families are living in private rental apartments without furniture, and often without high-quality rental apartments.”

A Newcastle Council spokesman said residents seeking help with furniture, appliances and household items could apply for an independence support program that replaces Community Care Grant Assessments.

Citizens Advice’s Newcastle office said anyone in need of help can apply for a grant here through their Turn2Us website.

Shona Alexander, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Newcastle, said: “We are facing a cost of living crisis this winter due to rising energy prices, inflation and lower benefit payments.



Shona Alexander
Shona Alexander

“Our data shows that 1 in 10 families will not be able to cover their basic living expenses this winter, and 1 in 5 families have already cut their expenses in response to rising costs.

“That means people continue to use our service to get advice on where to charity for basic housewares like furniture, carpets, washing machines, mattresses, and groceries as they simply don’t have enough money to pay for everything but theirs daily cost of living. ”

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