Tuesday, 9 August 2022
    Furniture for those fleeing domestic violence

    Furniture for those fleeing domestic violence

    Manuela Whitford and her husband Darrell are loading a van with donated goods at a small warehouse south of Brisbane, SBS reports.

    Darrell will drive the furniture and household items to what they call 'sanctuaries' – rented homes where people who have fled domestic violence can restart their lives.

    “When people leave, they may take nothing but a backpack,” says Ms Whitford, 48.

    “So, we try to fit them out with donated goods like tables, mattresses; everything they need to furnish a home.”

    It’s all thanks to her not-for-profit Friends with Dignity, which has so far delivered $8 million worth of goods to abuse survivors across Australia. And demand is rapidly rising.

    “We are inundated with requests and, in the last week alone, we have assisted in putting five homes together,” Ms Whitford says.

    She founded the charity in 2015 to help men, women and children impacted by abuse, and she herself is no stranger to violence.

    Domestic violence offences increased by 17 per cent across Queensland last year, according to a report from the state government's statistician's office.

    “It is very overwhelming for [people fleeing] so we try to ease that burden as they start again," Ms Whitford says.

    “Furnishing a home costs around $5,000, even with donated items.

    “But we have been blessed with donations, on a daily basis. Some items come in brand new. It is amazing how the community just bands together to help families in need.”

    Among the charity’s 150 registered volunteers across South East Queensland, NSW and Western Australia, is 66 -year-old Mary Page – who left an abusive marriage with her three young children in the 1990s.

    She had few possessions when she was later forced to rent a property.

    “It makes me feel I am doing a good thing for someone who is in very big need,” she says.

    “If there was a service like this 30 years ago, it would have helped me a lot, especially with the children being so young.”


    This Australian charity is furnishing homes for people fleeing domestic violence (SBS)

    Friends with Dignity


    One of the homes Friends with Dignity has furnished Credit: Supplied Manuela Whitford