St Albans homeless charity accused of refusing “totally usable” furniture donations

PUBLISHED: 09:39 07 September 2018 | UPDATED: 09:39 07 September 2018

The table Emmaus did not accept. Picture: Oliver Warrack

The table Emmaus did not accept. Picture: Oliver Warrack


A homeless charity has been accused of turning down “totally usable” furniture donations because they are not showroom quality.

London Colney resident Oliver Warrack wanted to donate a large solid wood dining table and chairs to Emmaus in St Albans but when the collection van arrived, he was told it was not good enough quality.

The 28-year-old said apart from a small inconspicuous notch in the wood, the table was in perfect condition.

He described it as bizarre and disappointing: “He just looked at that little nick within 30 seconds, said it needs to be showroom quality and didn’t even look at the chairs. The table was totally usable and I am sure it would have gone to a nice home through them.

“I was annoyed because at no point they said it had to be pristine quality. In my eyes, there’s nothing wrong with the table.”

Furniture donated to Emmaus is sold in one of its six charity shops, and the profits go towards providing accommodation and work to more than 800 people who would be homeless.

Oliver said there was no mention of strict rules when he rang to make a collection appointment three weeks earlier.

He added: “At this point we had a new table so there was no space in the house for it. So we thought, ‘How are we going to get rid of it?’ We thought it would have to go to the dump.”

In the end it went to a new home through Facebook. On a social media thread in a prominent Facebook residents group, other locals reported experiencing similar problems with the charity.

Oliver said: “It just seems bizarre for a charity to not take the furniture because it’s not showroom quality.”

Emmaus refused to comment on individual cases, and a spokesperson said there are five vans visiting more than 7,000 homes every year.

She said: “That being said, collections of donated items are never pre-agreed as a certainty that they will be taken and customers are always told that it is at the discretion of our fully trained van crew. There have been many occasions that we have taken damaged items that could be restored in our workshop, but the ability to do this depends on the skillset we have in our community at that time.”

The spokesperson added that disposing of non-saleable donations costs the charity £7,500 every year.

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A few years back I was fixing a shed in our garden and had enlisted the help of my young son. We were busy moving rotten pieces of wood from the side of the shed when suddenly I felt sharp stabbing pains in my lower legs. Before I had a chance to investigate my son started screaming in pain and it took a few more seconds to realize that we were trampling on a wasps’ nest!

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