Many of the charities that in theory "take furniture" want to sell it, so when they ask for things in "good condition" they don't mean "good enough to use", they mean "good enough to go straight onto the shop floor". Below we list some recommendations for charities that won't reject decent furniture.
Note: no charity will take upholstered items without a fire safety label. If your sofa/armchair doesn't have one, you will not be able to pass it on to any charity.
Cardiff: Bobath Cymru
The cerebral palsy charity Bobath Cymru/Bobath Wales has an excellent track record of collecting furniture.
Oxfordshire (Didcot): Helen & Douglas House
A reader tells us: "They collected my sofa." (She also lives in Didcot, so we don't know how far they will travel to collect.)
Sheffield/national: St Vincent de Paul
The national charity St Vincent de Paul collects household items, including furniture, and then either gives them to people in need or sells them cheaply in its shops. A Sheffield reader writes:
"In autumn 2018 I arranged for the Sheffield branch of St Vincent to collect several items of furniture. I sent pictures of most things in advance so they could check they were suitable. They rejected one item in advance (which I later listed on Gumtree and got three takers for, so not sure what was wrong with it). It took a bit of effort to arrange the collection because the volunteers in the Sheffield office seem to be sharing one computer. But the van turned up on the agreed day and the volunteers took nine pieces of furniture with no fuss. The only bad thing was that the list of items and pictures that I sent through multiple times obviously didn't get passed on to the people collecting the furniture. That meant that one item was left behind. But the people collecting were friendly, polite and told me that at least one item of furniture was going straight to a newly housed family who'd previously been homeless."
Warrington: St Rocco's Hospice
A reader tells us: "This place is really good for both buying and donating!"
AVOID: British Heart Foundation
The British Heart Foundation advertises for donations of furniture, but we haven't heard from anyone who has successfully donated any to them and we have heard from two people in different parts of the UK who've tried and failed because of their extremely picky attitude. A Sheffield person writes:
"In summer 2018 I arranged for British Heart Foundation to collect several items of furniture and was shocked when they turned up and rejected the lot. They refused a futon (for not being in pristine condition), a metal chair (for not having a fire safety label on the tiny bit that was made of fabric), a filing cabinet (for not having a key to go in the lock) and two bookcases (because the shelves weren't all the same colour). I also tried to give away a metal desk with some tape stuck on the top. They pulled the tape off and pulled the paint off with it - and promptly rejected the desk on the grounds that some of the paint had come off! They even made a fuss about taking two wooden spice racks and I think they only took them to humour me because they could see how annoyed I was. The whole thing was a waste of time."
A Cardiff woman had a similar experience, also in summer 2018:
"I had a set of beautiful dining-room furniture in real yew wood, which I had painted with Annie Sloan paint. The British Heart Foundation arrived to collect it and then refused to take it because it was painted and the paint "might be lead" which would be dangerous! I assured them that it definitely wasn't lead paint and even offered to show them the exact tin of paint I used, but they just left. The Bobath Cymru ended up taking the whole set, and the table alone sold for £175."
Pass It On has learned that the British Heart Foundation use local third-party contractors for their collections, who are then required to pay for the disposal of any items the BHF rejects. One contractor told us: "They don't do anything to the furniture, so everything has to be ready to go straight on to the shop floor. If it isn't, we have to pay to get rid of it, which is why we seem so picky."