Prague City Hall opens furniture bank for low-income groups

Photo: Marie Veselá / Czech Radio

The city of Prague has opened a furniture bank, which collects old furniture and other household appliances for socially disadvantaged people and low-income families, who lack finances to buy new furnishing. The operation of the furniture bank is based on donations received from citizens and companies.

The newly established furniture bank is located on the outskirts of Prague, in the district of Libuš, where people can donate functional furniture and appliances they want to get rid of. The city will then provide them to people who cannot afford to buy their own.

Most of the furniture that has accumulated here so far includes office cupboards and shelves, donated by companies which are refurbishing their offices.

Photo: Marie Veselá / Czech Radio

However, there are also a few brand new beds with matrasses, a donation from one of the large furniture chains. Tomáš Valenta, who is in charge of the furniture bank, says these items will definitely be the most sought after.

“There is a saying in Czech that if you have a chair, you have a home. So chairs, tables and beds are the most popular items, and at the same time, they are in short supply, because people don’t get rid of them so frequently. So we are definitely interested in old beds or wardrobes.”

He also stresses that people should only bring furniture or household appliances that are functional, although minor defects can be fixed by the bank’s four employees.

The furniture will then be donated to seniors, single parents, young people who have just left institutional care or anyone else, who has trouble making ends meet.

Photo: Marie Veselá / Czech Radio

According to Martin Šimáček, head of the Centre of Social Services of Prague, there are thousands of such people living in the Czech capital at the moment.

“Over 20,000 people in Prague need social benefits, and over a thousand people have applied for one of the city’s social apartments. These are people who really have no money and who cannot afford housing if they don’t receive some sort of support.”

Before donating their furniture, people should first contact the bank’s management and send in photos of the items. They can either bring it on their own or the bank will send their employees to pick it up, says Mr Valenta:

“The donors don’t have to worry about having to carry the heavy stuff on their own. We have a couple of strong men who can carry it from the fifth floor to the van without any problem.”

A furniture bank had operated in the city of Prague in the past, run by the NGO R-Mosty. However, its capacity wasn’t sufficient and the councillors decided to open a bank run by the municipality. In the future, they would like to launch another social project, hiring unemployed people to repair the broken furniture.