This information is intended to help Ukrainian guests in Bruton and the surrounding towns and villages who are moving on to independent accommodation from living with local hosts.
Moving into unfurnished accommodation can be very expensive. The information here is to summarise where you might be able to get lower cost or free items, and financial assistance.
Buying things cheaply
Charity shops can be a good source of low cost items. They are run mostly by volunteers and sell second hand items that have been donated by local people. Their aim is both to raise money for charity and to help those on a budget. Many of the charity shops in Bruton, Wincanton, and Castle Cary are too small to contain much furniture, although they are certainly worth checking regularly for other items. The St Margaret’s Hospice shop in Wincanton has more furniture than the others.
There are several larger charity shops nearby specialising in furniture and electrical items, and if you are furnishing a home and want several large items then these are worth a visit. In the UK there are laws to protect consumers buying furniture and electrical goods: all the items sold by these charity shops will have been checked and tested for fire and electrical safety before they are sold. In some cases the electrical items will come with a 6 month guarantee from the shop even though they are not new.
The closest large charity furniture and electrical stores are in: Frome, Warminster, and Yeovil. Click on the links to find out a little more about each one.
- Frome: Rotary Club shop (town centre, good prices)
- Frome: Dorothy House shop (on the way to Rotary Club shop or Warminster, probably best for TVs)
- Warminster: British Heart Foundation shop (large with a lot of choice, guarantees on electricals)
- Yeovil: St Margarets Hospice shop (very big, a lot of choice but possibly a bit overwhelming)
The Honesty Jar in Henstridge offers items by donation: you give as much as you are able, and they are happy to give items for free if you are in need. They do not have large items like furniture or electricals, but they do have smaller household items like pots, pans and kitchen items (as well as clothes and things for children).
Regular shops. Larger supermarkets can be a good source of new smaller household items, as can shops like Argos. They are certainly useful for checking out prices online: charity shops are not always cheaper, and it’s good to have an idea of what new things cost before you go to a charity shop. There may also be some things that you might prefer to buy new for hygiene reasons. In my research (October 2022) I found that a new mattress was cheaper from Argos than from one of the charity shops (the charity shops often sell new mattresses and pillows). However particularly for larger items, you may find that regular shops charge a delivery fee per item, rather than per load, and this can push the price up. You may also find items discounted at sale times (there are likely to be sales after Christmas).
Getting things for free
Free items are sometimes available through the people you know and their friends, and through social media networks.
As these items are not being sold, they are not subject to the same consumer laws, and so there is no guarantee that they are safe to use. You are advised to get any free electrical items you are given ‘PAT tested’, and to look for a fire safety label on any upholstered furniture. Nonetheless people can be very generous and you may be able to get some excellent gifts.
Sources of free items include:
- Facebook group ‘Donations for Refugees in Somerset‘. You need to join the group and then you can ask for items you need, or wait and look at what is being offered. This new group has been set up specifically to help local Ukrainians moving to independent homes.
- People often politely ask for items they want (and offer items they no longer need) in the local facebook groups, such as ‘Alternative Bruton’: your host (or their friends) may be able to advise you on which are the friendliest local facebook groups.
- ‘Trash Nothing‘ groups online. You can be sent an email each morning (or more of less often) summarising what is offered and requested. If you add your location then it tells you how far away each offered item is (there is no point in travelling a long distance for a cheap item). You can adjust it so you are only shown items that are within 2 or 5 miles of your location. You can also do a ‘search alert’ for a specific item (such as a bed or a sofa) and save this as an email alert.
- Freegle: very similar to the ‘Trash Nothing’ groups.
- Nextdoor: similar to Facebook, and may have either free or priced items on offer (or you can ask)
Getting financial assistance
You can apply for financial help from the Somerset Household Support fund. You can apply as a refugee and will have to supply personal information to see if you are eligible for help.
Bruton Supports Ukraine may also be able to offer grants of up to £300 per family to help with the cost of moving and furnishing rented accommodation. This money comes from donations from local residents so please think carefully about using this fund. If you would like to ask for help please email ukraine@stmarysbruton explaining your situation, when you plan to move and whether you are moving into furnished or unfurnished accommodation. One of the team will reply to you as soon as possible.