Social enterprise - Neighbourhood Furniture Store

We have a Neighbourhood Furniture Store funded by Fresh Visions in Sittingbourne, Kent.

The Store has provided job and volunteer opportunities to over 80 young people, including ex offenders and those excluded from school.

Lottery funding for local furniture projects

In 2014, two local furniture stores, The Fresh Visions Neighbourhood Furniture Store in Sittingbourne and Abacus Furniture Project in Maidstone, benefited from a £10,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund.

The two projects, set up by local housing associations Optivo and West Kent, collect and sell reusable second hand furniture to people on low incomes.

West Kent had secured a large amount of funding to set up the new store in Maidstone. The £10k lottery funding enabled a new partnership between the two housing associations, allowing the two stores to work closely together.

Through their partnership approach they've been able to help more people in Maidstone, on low incomes access affordable furniture and to divert more furniture away from landfill sites.

The grant from the lottery has been used by the projects to increase awareness in Maidstone through advertising in local papers and on Argos receipts. It's also improved the limited space at Maidstone store by increasing storage space, through the use of floor racking.

The results are clear; the partnership approach between the two Housing Associciations has brought an increase in business. The Abacus store is now receiving an average of 254 customers and 54 donations per month. As the Maidstone store has limited space, the overflow has meant that the Neighbourhood Furniture Store collections have increased by 6%, with sales increased by 9%.

Everlyn Saunders, Project Manager at the Sittingbourne Neighbourhood Furniture Store said: "We're really grateful for the lottery grant; it's helped us increase what we do in Maidstone. We've supported our partners at Abacus to provide Maidstone residents with affordable furniture and white goods they need. Between us we've diverted thousands of tons of furniture from landfill sites, and the store opening in Maidstone will further increase the amount diverted."

If you're in need of low cost furniture or if you have furniture to donate please contact: Neighbourhood Furniture Store on 01795 478550 or Abacus on 01622 620464.

Or find them at: Abacus, West Kent Housing Association, Unit 3, Parkwood Parade, Maidstone, ME15 9HL and at: Neighbourhood Furniture Store, Unit M2, Tribune Drive, Trinity Trading Estate, Sittingbourne, ME10 2PG.