On 1st February, the Bishop of Dover launched a new way for people to save in Sittingbourne.
- Families on a tight budget offered a new way to save for furniture
- A collaboration between community businesses and local churches
On Monday 1st February, the Bishop of Dover the Rt. Revd Trevor Willmott, launched a new way for people to save in Sittingbourne. One of the biggest challenges facing families on low incomes is how to find the money to pay for furniture and essential white goods. Community partners Amicus-Horizon, Kent Savers Credit Union, Fresh Visions, and the Neighbourhood Furniture Store in Milton Regis have worked with local parish churches to find a solution to this problem and help families on tight budgets
The result is a new style savings account with different ways to save. Through the Furniture Savings Account, when the target amount is reached, money is transferred straight across to the furniture store and items can be collected or delivered.
The idea began when Tina Miles, Community Involvement Manager for Amicus-Horizon, saw that she regularly wrestled with how best to support families in need of furniture, but who have little or no financial resources. Many struggle to find the remaining money to pay for items once they have been secured with a small deposit.
Tina is pleased with the new account: “We’ve been listening to our customers and they wanted something to help them buy essential items for their home when they need them.”
At the launch, Bishop Trevor helped the first Furniture Savings Account holder to complete their application form. He spoke about the difficulties families face to make ends meet and the power of organisations, including parish churches, working together for the good of the whole community:
“This initiative is another example of what can be achieved when churches, organisations and businesses think creatively about how to solve a problem. It’s a celebration of partnership across the community.
“Every family deserves the right to make their home a better place to live in and share time together. This helps them to do so without worry. Many of those taking advantage of this scheme are simply looking to buy the things that many of us take for granted, and so all those involved should be proud of what they have achieved.”
Martin Kingman, Chairman of Kent Savers Credit Union was happy to help:
“This project is a great example of how Kent Savers collaborate with partners in our community to meet a specific need. We are delighted to be able to assist in this. With greater internet access available and our secure and easy to use on-line facilities, you can open an account almost anywhere now. I wish the project every success.”
Parish Priests Revd George Rogers and Revd Lesley Jones work with a number of organisations in the town and are pleased to support the project and work with volunteers to open the new Furniture Savings Accounts.
Revd. George said: “This is a continuation of our project in Murston Church with the community hub and Murston Community Bank. We also have a hub in Milton Regis now, and residents will be able to open accounts in these spaces, as well as the Neighbourhood Furniture Store.”
Thanks to the strong partnership that has developed between the various community groups and businesses, there are also plans underway for the Neighbourhood Furniture Store to help with the washing and storage of donated school uniforms before they are given away in the churches of Murston and Milton Regis, and the Community Centre at Kemsley.
Before any washing machines or tumble dryers can be sold they must be run through three whole cycles – usually done without any clothes in them. Furniture store staff have agreed to use these cycles to wash and dry any second-hand uniforms when required. They will also store the clothing so that volunteers will be able to sort, iron and fold uniforms ready for distribution to families in need.
- Amicus-Horizon is a housing association providing affordable homes and shared ownership in London and the South East. It’s a supporter of the Neighbourhood Furniture Store through its registered charity Fresh Visions which supports disadvantaged children and young people. http://www.amicushorizon.org.uk/freshvisions
- Opening Times and access points for the new Furniture Savings Account:
- Neighbourhood Furniture Store, Tribune Drive, Trinity Trading Estate
Monday to Friday 8.30am to 3.30 pm
- Murston Community Bank, All Saints Church, Church Road Murston.
Monday to Wednesdays 10.00am to 12 noon.
- Milton Regis Community Hub, Holy Trinity Parish Hall, Green Porch
Close, Milton Regis.
Monday 10am to 12 noon and Wednesday 10.30am to 12.30pm.
- Or online with Kent Savers Credit Union