Where To Donate

When the boys were small I used to do a frantic clear out before Christmas to make room for the deluge of new stuff that was about to arrive. Out went the toys that were no longer played with, the clothes that were too small, the broken bits of plastic tat. The 15yo was always particularly strong in that regard. One year I realised he had almost no toys as everything had been taken apart to make into something else. I have become adept at sorting through what most people would regard as rubbish to sift out the useful stuff- pen spring in, sweet wrapper out, plastic wheel nut in, half a pencil out. The other day he bought a child’s cash register from Sainsbury’s because it came with a conveyor belt – that has now been repurposed into a background for stop motion movies and the rest is in the bin.

And yes I feel bad about the plastic. While not wanting to stifle this amazing creative spirit. So I thought this year, just before it all starts I would make a list of places to donate things so that if you are also clearing out the old to make way for the new then it might help.

I wanted to do this as well because I notice that the stock response of “let’s take it to the charity shop” doesn’t always work. They don’t always want it – particularly home furnishings as I think there are rules and regulations about what they can accept – they need a valid fire label basically.

The other day I linked to a simillar post by Alex of The Frugality and her list includes dontations for women and babies, small children and animals so rather than repeat I shall link here.

First up don’t forget Freecycle which is a non-profit organisation you can use to get rid of, and acquire, stuff for your home that might otherwise end up in landfill.

You can also ask the local library if they would like books that are in good condition.

To donate furniture you can always ask your local council if they can use it. Then you can see if there an an Emmaus local to you. This French organisation was founded after WWII in Paris by the French Resistance fighter Abbé Pierre to provide homes for homeless people . It came to the UK in the 1990s following a chance encounter in a soup kitchen and there are now 29 communities spread across the UK supporting some 750 people by giving them a home as long as they need it and work in the Emmaus commumity. They are hoping to increase this to 1000 places by 2020. They also save some 3000 tonnes of furniture from landfill annually.

Or you can book a collection from the Furniture Donation Network, who will collect it directly from inside your home (so you don’t need to heave it about) and donate to low income families or sell to help with social welfare projects.

Another idea is the Re-Use Network which helps families in crisis by putting them in contact with places where they can find affordable (sometimes free) items for their own homes or vice versa – helping you find a local place where you can donate things you no longer need.

There is also the Veterans Charity , who provide furniture and other essentials – food, clothing and household essentials as well as Forces Support, who will collect furniture and carry out house clearance.

These are just some ideas which might be worth bearing in mind.


Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Thanks for this great post Kate. For anyone in or close to Oxford, you can donate furniture (but no white goods) to the Helen and Douglas House at 14 Windmill Road in Headington. I think they will also collect within the local area. It’s well worth visiting the shop as I’ve seen great stuff in there including an Ercol dining set and a Victorian dresser.
    I’m now off in search of somewhere to donate old school textbooks and bras!

  2. In Pembrokeshire we have Frame which collects unwanted furniture, which is then restored or repurposed by adults with learning difficulties. This gives employment& training, saves stuff going to landfill & cut price goods for those on a low income.

  3. This is very useful but please not you CANNOT donate books to the library, library systems can’t register second-hand books and librarians are under enough pressure without having to dispose of your junk. Either take them to a charity shop or to one of the many book recycling schemes that now exist in places like stations.

  4. I didn’t realise Emmaus was in England! In Devon, there is a remarkable organisation called Refurnish (I think it’s funded by the Council to some extent) which takes furniture in good condition to resale at very reasonable prices with further discounts for low income households. In the town where I live, they have relocated recently right next to the Council recycling centre and have the same opening hours so there is really no excuse not to take the good stuff to them since they can assess what you bring and if they don’t want it, you can take it to the dump straight away. They even have an upcycling store called Re:Store where they refurbish and transform the best pieces to sale at a better price than in their other store.
    I once saw the most amazing four poster wooden bed in the main store. It had of course been snapped up more or less straight away. All the nice solid wood fueniture tends to go really quickly.

  5. Brilliant post Kate, so much just gets thrown out when there are so many people that are in need. I’ve really tried this year to make sure my gifts are useful rather than completely frivolous.
    Our office downsize this month has seen us able to donate white goods to a local women’s refuge who are always in need of support 🙂

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