“It’s a pretty powerful model,” he said, “because all [of it] is given to us – furniture soccer fields [which is] no longer goes to the landfill.
Recently, a woman fleeing domestic violence was browsing ReLove’s warehouse. “She has nothing, her house is empty,” Fernando said. She selected chairs and sofas – some brightly colored from companies such as the Commonwealth Bank, which is being refurbished.
The woman could pick out artwork, bedside tables, coffee tables (one with the $200 price tag still on it), and unused beanbags wrapped in tape donated by hotels. New towels, fake flowers and other items donated by Ikea were also at her disposal.
Mattresses donated by Koala round the ceiling. Silky bags contained new bamboo leaves made by Ettitude, which the volunteers threw themselves on, stroking them.
ReLove is increasingly working with companies that want to offload office furniture and retailers that have overstock or stock or returns from last season, but Fernando said it is also looking for financial support to enable it to grow.
So far, ReLove has received support, including warehouse space, from construction company Built. And volunteers — including some from software company Atlassian — help out every week.
Fernando said that when she visited people who had been assigned housing, she often found that they had nothing to put inside and that some occupants were “sleeping on the floor”.
“We give people agency at a time when they don’t have any autonomy,” Fernando said.
Many customers have been affected by domestic violence, women rushing out of the house with their children and only a few plastic bags containing possessions. Others include the homeless, as well as asylum seekers and men and women leaving prison. About 50% are indigenous.
For Azimitabar, working at ReLove is a way of giving back. “I received good support from people when I was in detention. And when I work at ReLove, it’s a way to help other vulnerable people, and it helps heal my own trauma.
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