Highbridge Furniture members "horrified" to hear it will close in May

This is The West Country: Kim Chatwin and Tina Grey. Photo: Jeff Searle. Kim Chatwin and Tina Grey. Photo: Jeff Searle.

A FURNITURE store which helps families on low incomes and the homeless will close in May.

Highbridge Furniture, based in Morland Road, allows people on low incomes to buy low priced second-hand items and has also been distributing 'crisis boxes' for the homeless.

But the store, which is registered as a non-for-profit group, has become financially unsustainable and will close at 4pm on May 8.

Highbridge Furniture's Tina Gray told the Weekly News: “There's just not enough money in the bank to sustain it.

“We have had trouble applying for funding and business rate relief because we are not a registered charity.

“It is really hard to register, as you need to have at least £5,000 in the bank and it is a long, difficult process.

“The law needs to change to allow non-for-profit groups to have the same sort of rights as charities, like an 80% discount on business rates, if charitable groups like ours are to remain active.”

Sedgemoor District Council supported the company through discretionary awards of 100% business rate relief between 19/10/12 and 31/03/13 and 84.5% relief for 2013/14.

A spokesman added: “Unfortunately the store did not seek charitable status, which is likely to have given the company both mandatory and discretionary charitable relief on a more permanent basis.”

Highbridge Furniture was set up by volunteers in November 2012 to help people on low incomes, but it has also been providing 'crisis boxes' for the homeless with items like cutlery, crockery, mirrors etc to get them back on their feet.

Ms Gray added: “We have people recommended to us and they receive a crisis box. We have even given some special cases furniture for free.

“We have about 110 members, not including those in crisis, and a lot of people will suffer when we close. People who use the service have been horrified to hear the news.”

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