1936. Emily Wheeler
Emily Wheeler, from London, is an interior designer and social worker who set up ‘Furnishing Futures’ in 2020 to decorate empty social housing properties for low-income families, and women and children fleeing domestic abuse.
From her social work Emily saw firsthand the impact furniture poverty, with only 2% of social housing properties coming furnished and many lacking basic items such as flooring, curtains and white goods. Realising her skills and connections in the interior industry could help, she created ‘Furnishing Futures’, a charitable initiative supported by a collective of interior stylists, designers and brands who donate items that may have been used on photographic shoots, in showrooms or that cannot be sold and would otherwise be destined for landfill. Emily works alongside each family to furnish the whole home with everything needed to live comfortably, and is currently transforming a women’s refuge in North East London.
“I’m honoured to receive the Points of Light award for ‘Furnishing Futures’. Thousands of families are living without basic furniture and women and children who have escaped domestic abuse are particularly vulnerable to furniture poverty, living in empty homes. As a social worker and trained interior designer, it was clear to me that there is enormous need for a furniture project that fully furnishes and creates healing homes for women and children who have experienced trauma and multiple disadvantages. A lot of perfectly good furniture goes to waste in the interiors industry and local community so we divert beautiful things that might otherwise end up in landfill and use them to create safe and comfortable homes for the families we support at no cost to them. I’m proud of the work we are doing and hope to continue raising awareness of furniture poverty until every family has a home that meets their needs.”