Furniture Poverty: “Cosy Start gave me a fresh beginning without any of the struggles”

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Here at St John’s, we understand that living in poverty can have a devastating impact on a person’s wellbeing and mental health. As increasing numbers of people are finding themselves struggling to make ends meet, we have seen a rise in furniture poverty across Bath and North East Somerset.  

Having a home without any furniture can be demoralising and that is why we work in partnership with charities and local organisations, such as Curo to provide a lifeline to those needing support.  

We are able to provide financial support to families and individuals who are struggling financially, typically by purchasing those essential items such as beds, white goods, and furniture. We are also able to fund services such as counselling, debt support and basic employment skills and training.  

Helping people like Eddy to regain his independence is at the heart of what we do at St John’s, and we are proud to support the amazing work being delivered across our region.   

“Cosy Start gave me a fresh beginning without any of the struggles” 

Talented musician Eddy Allen has the foundations for a new beginning, thanks to Curo’s Cosy Start pilot scheme.  

The pilot offers residents a furnished home when they start a tenancy, helping them to stay out of debt.  

“Cosy Start is amazing,” says Eddy, who lives in Bath. “Having all the furniture and white goods in my flat meant that I could feel instantly at home. I can have guests round and feel proud that my home has everything I need. 

“I am an addict who is in recovery, so I can get anxious sometimes. Cosy Start meant that I had one less thing to worry about when I moved in.”  

Eddy had been living in hotels, having previously been homeless. “I love cooking, but obviously could not do that in the hotels, so I had to rely on takeaways and other unhealthy food. Having a cooker already installed in my flat means I have been able to make meals from scratch again – including my favourite penne pasta with chicken and homemade pesto!” 

Eddy says having a stable home is a welcome change for him. “I’ve travelled around the UK and to other countries since I was 15 years old,” he says. “This flat is a chance for me to have some stability as I concentrate on my recovery.” 

It is also an opportunity for the guitarist to record his music ( and he has set up a home studio in a corner of his living room. “I’m so grateful for a chance to work on my creative projects,” says Eddy. “Cosy Start gave me a fresh start without any of the struggles.” 

What is furniture poverty? 

Cosy Start aims to tackle the problem of furniture poverty. This is defined as the inability to access, or afford to buy or maintain, any household furniture or appliance that is essential to achieving a socially acceptable standard of living. 

The financial impact of furniture poverty is considerable – and set to get worse. For an average household: 

  • Living without a cooker adds £2,100 to a food bill 
  • Living without a fridge/freezer adds £1,365 to a food bill 
  • Living without a washing machine adds £1,000 washing expenses 
  • Living with faulty or inefficient white goods adds over £100 to energy bills 

The homes included in Curo’s pilot scheme were furnished with a bed and mattress, fridge freezer, washing machine, oven, sofa, wardrobe, chest of drawers and bedside table. Resident also got a welcome pack that included a kettle, toaster, four cups, bowls, plates and glasses, saucepans, cutlery, and bedding.  

Emma Owens, Director of Customer Accounts and Lettings at Curo, says: “The pilot means we can offer around 20 furnished tenancies. We will be measuring the outcomes of the pilot and, if it is successful, hope to offer it more widely.”