A year ago, Devizes-based charity KFR responded to an urgent call in the wake of a fatal fire at Waiblingen Way.
Volunteers raced to help housing service Aster bring together essential furniture and white goods to residents who needed a new, safe, place to stay.
This year, the charity has worked to respond to the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic and, moving forward, are looking to expand their current space at Hopton Park Industrial Estate due to a rise in demand for their services.
The charity, founded in 1996, refurbish furniture and white goods so that quality items are available to households with limited income. They also work around remove unwanted furnitutre items from people’s homes in a bid to reduce landfill waste.
Their current base is brimming with second-hand furniture and white goods, such as dishwashers and fridges, available to purchase at reduced prices.
KFR, since re-opening for business after the pandemic on June 1, is on the hunt for a larger space.
Demand for services has grown substantially throughout the years and, says KFR’s Daniel Thompson, covid-19 will only increase that demand.
He said: “We really are needed right now, we’re growing out of this warehouse and need more space.
“With covid, we’re also quarantining the furniture for 48 hours after it’s donated and that in itself takes up an entire room.
“We’ve really changed the way we’ve worked this year with doorstep deliveries, one van instead of two due to covid.
“It’s been a lot of work and credit has to be given to the team. We have a big pool of volunteers which we’ve been forced to reduce and form bubbles. We have to be ready to respond to anything especially as the nature of poverty changes.
“People are finding themselves facing financial struggles potentially for the first time in their life.”
Working-age adults who had previously been in jobs accounted for by far the largest rise in people living in poverty, recent research by the The Legatum Institute has found. They’ve reported that the number of people living in poverty had risen by almost 700,000 to 15.2m this year as a result of the pandemic’s impact on jobs, wages and profits.
Mr Thompson hopes that charities working together across Wiltshire can ensure people “don’t fall through the cracks.”
He added: “We’ve worked to help all sorts of people this year – those fleeing domestic violence, rough sleepers who now have new homes but no furniture, all sorts.
“People will want and need our services more in the future. Wiltshire is quite rural and delivery costs can be big issue for people. If you don’t have a car, that’s a problem. If you do have a car but are struggling for money, then fuel poverty’s a problem.
“The class divide in Wiltshire is strange, you have somewhere like Marlborough where there’s a lot of wealth spread across the town – and that distorts statistics and average incomes, and almost hides those in the area who are struggling from help. There are people across Wiltshire falling through the cracks and organisations like us need to work together to reach them.
“I don’t know what the next few months will hold, but it’s important charities get the right support to make sure we limit the impact of the pandemic on families and those struggling.”
Article originally appeared in Gazette and Herald [29/12/2020]
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