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More Life Home: the recycled furniture store fighting the cost of living crisis

As the cost of living crisis hits, More Life Home is helping local people furnish their homes on a budget with affordable, recycled furniture.

Hidden down a small passageway, just off Millharbour on the Isle of Dogs, More Life Home could hardly be more tucked away. In fact, were it not for the discreet hand-drawn sign, and neatly arranged furniture on the street outside, you could walk right past it.

But step inside the brightly lit showroom, and you’ll be glad you found it. A menagerie of pre-loved homeware is stacked almost to the ceiling, from comfy velvet armchairs to sturdy dinner tables, second-hand clothes to pop art prints of Marilyn Monroe.

The space functions as a shop and warehouse for More Life Home, an environmentally conscious non-profit organisation that provides affordable furniture to local people. The project, led by director Natalie Dinsmore, opened in 2020 as a practical way to support low-income people in Tower Hamlets – London’s poorest borough.

All the furniture sold here is second-hand and affordably priced, but customers can also apply for a means-tested ‘Furniture Bank’ scheme, and be provided the furniture for free. As the cost of living crisis hits, projects like this are helping those on the lowest budgets keep their heads above water.

Blue and white sign for More Life Home recycled furniture store, Isle of Dogs, East London

As I browse the aisles, a young woman scans the motley assortment of goods. Jimmy, the friendly shop assistant, greets her by name. “What are you after today?”, he asks, before pointing her in the direction of a white coffee table. It’s not to her liking, and he suggests she come back next week.

That’s the thing, from one day to the next, you never quite know what you’ll find here. Among the scuffed office chairs and well-worn wardrobes, rough diamonds wait for their next owner to walk through the door. Elegant glass coffee tables, leather sofas, and polished wooden dressers are piled on each other, all perhaps in need of a little TLC, but with plenty to offer a new home. 

With 22 million pieces of furniture thrown away in the UK each year, the environmental benefits of the project are clear. All of the furniture on sale at More Life Home has been donated from homes and businesses, to be recycled and provided to those most in need.

“It’s all about helping people”, Jimmy tells me. “You can see how happy people are when they come in with a small amount of money, and leave with something to take home.”

More Life Home also run a shop on the colourful Poplar promenade of Aberfeldy Street, selling homeware, bric-a-brac, and clothes. There they run a range of community-led workshops, including clothing repairs and furniture makeovers.

Exterior of More Life Home second hand shop on Aberfeldy Street, Poplar, East London
More Life Home also run a shop on Aberfeldy Street, Poplar.

All the money from both shops goes directly back to supporting the project, helping it become self-sufficient rather than reliant on funding. More Life Home is doing what it can to help London’s most vulnerable residents, and as the cost of living crisis hits, projects like this are more important than ever.

Click here to donate your unused furniture to More Life Home.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like our piece on Aberfeldy Boxing Club

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