Homeless get East End furniture makers’ help for a roof over their head

PUBLISHED: 12:00 04 December 2012

Rough sleepers are getting a helping hand from top furniture makers in London’s East End to learn how to restore old pieces and earn enough to get off the streets.

The ‘Living Furniture’ social enterprise project gets off the ground in January in Whitechapel when homeless men and women are taken on as apprentices at the £8.55-an-hour London Living Wage to help build a collection of reclaimed furniture.

The collection is being overseen by award-winning Rupert Blanchard, who won ‘British Product of the Year’ accolade at the 2011 British Design awards. He specialises in salvaging furniture from jumble sales, clearance markets and even rubbish tips, selling the restored work in Spitalfields Market.

Alastair Sloan, who set up the project with two homeless charities in Whitechapel, Providence Row and Crisis, explained: “I furnished my first flat almost entirely from furniture I picked up in the street and was amazed at the quality, some of it in perfect nick that was going to landfill.”

The project will give the apprentices enough to get a roof over their head, while learning furniture-making and building their confidence.

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