IT was set up in 1987 by a small committee of parishioners at a Sheffield church who rented a garage in Meersbrook at a peppercorn rent.
But in its 25th year, Sheffield’s St Vincent De Paul Society Furniture Store has grown into a huge operation, helping 4,000 families over the last year.
Now based in premises on Queens Road, where it moved last year from the basement of the nearby St Wilfrid’s Centre, there are 37 volunteers and three full-time staff.
Ralph Dickins, from Woodseats, fundraiser for the store, said: “It was started by a small group at the Mother of God Roman Catholic Church on Abbeydale Road.
“Now we have reached our quarter-century we have never been in more demand. The economic downturn has left more people needing help.
“Over the 2011/12 financial year, we have received 1,300 referrals covering more than 4,000 people, up from around 1,200 referrals for 3,700 people in 2010/11.
“We receive referrals from 300 organisations, ranging from drug rehabilitation agencies to the NHS and probation service.”
The charity provides furniture for a variety of people in difficult circumstances - from those leaving prison to homeless people moving into accommodation and women and their children fleeing domestic violence.
The charity needs £190,000 a year in funding to cover its running costs, which comes from Sheffield Council, grants by charitable trusts and donations from individuals and businesses.
It is holding a fundraising 25th anniversary party at Baldwin’s Omega on Friday, May 25, for which tickets are on sale priced £25 per head.
■ For information about St Vincent’s Furniture Store, to donate or to buy tickets for the anniversary bash, log onto /www.svp.org.uk or call the store on 0114 2703990.