A CHARITY in the Hunter feels lucky to have a “stockpile” of beds after receiving their largest bulk donation of furniture to date from the RAAF base at Williamtown, giving families in need the chance to start their lives over.
The Newcastle and Port Stephens branch of charity Friends With Dignity took on beds, tables, chairs, mirrors, televisions, washing machines and other household items to furnish the “sanctuaries” they create for people fleeing domestic violence.
CPB Contractors, who are undertaking demolition at the accommodation precinct of the base, saw the opportunity to make a difference and made the offer.
“For a family to walk straight into a home set up with comfortable beds, beautiful linen and a washing machine and furniture is something pretty special,” Friends With Dignity volunteer Catherine Woodbine said.
She said the people living in these sanctuaries “often have nothing but the clothes on their back”.
“Everything was in such great condition,” CPB Contractors project engineer Tracey Medley said. Knowing the only other option was landfill, Ms Medley said they “saw the opportunity and thought ‘let’s run with it’”.
The Department of Defence and CPB Contractors have been arranging the deliveries free of charge since December, with the last of four truck loads arriving at the warehouse - owned personally by Ms Woodbine - on Monday.
With so many items to store, including around 120 beds, 12 washing machines and dryers and six televisions, Ms Woodbine found space in a warehouse owned by herself and her husband in order to make the most of the donation. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” she said.
“It was far too much to give up.”
Friends With Dignity has set up 41 sanctuaries in the Newcastle area over the past two years and each one becomes home to an average of four to five people.
They also they cater for emergency requests, Friends With Dignity founder Manuela Whitford told The Herald.
The stress of tracking down beds and washing machines especially has been alleviated with the donation - the charity even have enough to share.
“We are so grateful for even one bed,” Survivors R Us Cardiff founder Ann-Maria Martin said, whose charity received some of the furniture.
The charity already has 25 RAAF beds through Friends With Dignity and expect more in the coming weeks. Herself having left a domestic violence situation years ago, Ms Martin said the donation is “helping people to literally start their lives again”.
In December alone, the donation allowed 63 children to have their own beds, according to Ms Woodbine.
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