If you’re like me, you’ve probably had occasions in the past when you’ve had something to dispose of that’s too big to fit in your car. Examples might be an old sofa, large dining table or mattress. Most councils offer bulky waste collections, but before you jump on the phone, there are some other options to consider.
To get rid of unwanted furniture, there are charities that will collect it and sell it on your behalf. While there are some nationwide options like the British Heart Foundation (BHF), there are also regional causes that could benefit from your donation to invest in your local area.
Do Charities Pick Up Used Furniture?
There are a number of charities that will gladly accept second hand furniture donations, as I discovered a few years ago.
When our old sofa was replaced, I initially doubted anyone would be interested in buying it, so donating it to charity wasn’t an obvious choice. How I was wrong!
The reasoning in my mind was the cushions looked a little worn and threadbare to me in places, and having two children using it for the first few years of life had resulted in a few battle scars here and there.
Eventually, I decided to find out for sure, so got in touch with the British Heart Foundation, who quickly arranged a pick up, and explained that subject to a few checks (primarily that a fire safety label was attached), they’d remove the furniture at the same time.
Pro tip: Make the appointment for the day before your new sofas are delivered. That means that if the collection is held up or your new ones arrive earlier in the day than planned, you don’t end up with nowhere for the new ones to go. The last thing you need with an expensive new sofa is for it to be stuck outside in the rain due to a scheduling failure!
Sure enough, two friendly chaps arrived bang on time, and seemed quite amused that I was hoping that it would be of use to them. Apparently, they’d seen a lot worse!
What really caught me off guard was the following email I received just under a month later:
I’m no tax expert, but it sounds to me like the BHF got £247 from selling the furniture on, plus an additional £61.75 in Gift Aid on top from the tax man. That’s a total of £308.75 for doing less than nothing really on my part.
The reason I say less than nothing is I’d have had to do a lot more if I’d arranged for the council to pick up the furniture – at the very least I’d almost certainly have needed to get it out of the house for collection. What’s more, that would have cost me a £35 bulky waste collection fee too.
Which Charities Will Accept Second Hand Furniture?
Let’s take a look at some national charities that cover much of the UK and some will collect items from you at home. Before we go any further, please think carefully about using them as a free pick up service – for smaller items if you can drop them off to the good cause yourself, it saves them time and money. This works best for donating large items that you cannot transport on your own.
Other charities accept large items of furniture like sofas if you’re able to drop them off. That may be less appealing, so please read the descriptions below to be sure.
Let’s start with the British Heart Foundation (BHF) as we’ve already touched on them who are a very worthy cause in my mind. Of course, everyone has a charity that has touched their life in some way, and this is a great way to make a small gesture in return.
The British Heart Foundation raise funds for research into heart and blood-flow conditions to promote better health and research new treatments.
If you’d like to donate furniture to the charity, then it doesn’t come much easier than this. The British Heart Foundation have obviously put a lot of time and effort into making the process as easy as possible for people to use.
To get started, the easiest method is online. Just head over to the BHF website and type in your postcode. They don’t cover the whole UK, so it’s a quick way to find out is a pick up is available.
Just follow the instructions, and if you’re in a location that’s covered, you can arrange a collection with their team. They’re usually really flexible, so it’s likely you’ll be able to get a date and time that works for you without too much disruption.
If for some reason you’d prefer to speak to someone rather than book a collection online, you can try the customer services department on 0300 330 3322.
Age UK grew out of Age Concern and Help the Aged in 2009. Their primary mission is to increase the quality of life of the elderly, providing help and support to those in later life.
The charity do not offer collections, so will be limited to accepting furniture donations that can be dropped off at one of their stores. Specifically, that refers to their larger locations:
|Age UK Store||Address||Phone Number|
Roundswell District Centre
|Coulby Newham||18 Parkway Centre|
|Highcliffe||286A Lymington Rd|
|Keynsham||61 High St|
|0117 986 0226|
|Kings Heath||157 High St|
|0121 444 0029|
Letchworth Garden City
|Morriston||33 Woodfield St|
|Neath||4 – 5 Angel St|
|Newport||114A Pyle Street|
|01983 522 296|
|Newton Abbot||39 Queen St|
|Orpington||306 -308 High St|
|Parc Cwmdu||Unit 10 Parc|
|Polegate||10 High St|
|01323 483 180|
|Poole||116 High St|
|01942 493 502|
34/36 Dingle Walk
Winsford Cross Shopping Centre
Another well known organisation that have furniture collection services is the Red Cross. The organisation is best known for its humanitarian work in response to natural disasters and conflicts.
The Red Cross website has a really easy to use tool to see if they serve your area which you can find here. Enter your town or postcode in the first box or let the website determine your location, then be sure to select ‘Furniture and Electrical in the second box before searching. That will help you to see how far your nearest location offering collection is from you.
Debra raise money to support sufferers of Epidermolysis Bullosa, more commonly referred to as EB. Their role is to raise funds to further research the condition and support those affected.
They have a network of shops selling furniture and electrical items (alongside their other stock). If you live within fifteen miles of one of these locations, you may be able to arrange a free collection of used furniture.
They have an online lookup tool for you to check here.
The Oxfam charity have a simple goal to reduce and eradicate poverty around the globe. This has resulted in taking on huge and complex projects around the world to help the world’s poorest people.
The organisation accepts donations in their furniture stores, in the following locations:
|Oxfam Store||Address||Phone Number|
|Cambridge||20 Burleigh St|
|Liverpool||609-613 Smithdown Rd|
|0151 733 6641|
|Nottingham||155-157 Nottingham Rd|
|0115 920 8780|
|Oxford||133-135 Cowley Rd|
|Rochester||25-29 High St|
|Troon||9b Church St|
If you wish to donate an item of upholstered furniture – generally meaning armchairs, sofas, bed-settees and three piece suites, they will almost always need to have a fire safety label intact.
This is not charities looking a gift horse in the mouth, it’s a legal requirement for selling items that could be a fire risk if they have not been manufactured to the required standards.
As a rough guide (this is far from an exhaustive list), the following items are likely to need an attached fire safety label to be accepted.
- Upholstered Sofas/Settees/Sofa Beds/Chairs
- Leather Sofas/Settees/Sofa Beds/Chairs
- Bed Bases (and some cases, frames)
- Children’s Furniture
- Foot Stools
- Bean Bags
The requirements are set out in the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988, which have been updated several times in 1989, 1993 and 2010. For more information refer to this helpful guide on the Fire Safe website.
Where Is The Fire Safety Label On My Sofa?
As safety labels are a legal requirement and not really designed for their aesthetics, they’re usually located somewhere out of sight.
For some people, the back of the sofa is against a wall, but for others it’s visible, so that’s not a common spot for them to be placed. If you’re struggling to find the label – try under the seat cushions on the sofa, or failing that, look on the bottom of the furniture.
How To Dispose Of Furniture Without Fire Labels
Fire labels are a must for safety reasons whenever furniture is sold (or re-sold). For that reason, re-use is unlikely unless you know someone that needs what you’ve got.
If they’re happy to take the risk that it doesn’t meet fire safety standards, that’s up to them – so long as you don’t sell it to them or claim it does meet regulations erroneously. If it doesn’t have the label, it doesn’t meet requirements – even if it used to have a label.
For that reason, your best bet to get rid of furniture without fire safety labels is to take it to the tip or arrange for a bulky waste collection from the council if it’s too large to transport yourself.
There’s also the option of private skip hire – although this is likely to be more expensive for a single item and only makes sense if you’ve other stuff to throw away at the same time.
Finally, we return to the subject of council collections. The reason we advise readers to try charities first is threefold:
- Councils almost always charge for bulky waste removal
The price varies dramatically between areas, but one of the first things that was axed by councils as their budgets tightened over the last decade or so was free waste collections beyond their normal refuse collections.
We’ve got a large amount of information on this website about council services, just head for the menu at the top of the page, organised by county.
- Charities can make a lot of money from furniture
While coverage is patchy, furniture collections by charities are often free and make a significant difference to the people they operate to help. Why not let others benefit from your unwanted items?
- Council collections are rarely at specific times
When you pay for a local authority collection for furniture, such as sofas, you’ll usually be given a collection window and have to leave the waste out near the road throughout that period. That means you might have a sofa sat in your front garden for several days until they make it to your address!
If you’re unable to get the furniture collected for free as you’re not in an area that’s covered, you don’t have fire safety labels attached, or no-one wants it because it’s damaged, broken or just too worn, then the council are your last port of call.
Visit your local council’s website for details of how to arrange the pickup, or check out our sections for each area of the UK for more information.