A woman from Sheffield who opened a community shop to support victims of domestic violence is asking for help in fundraising in order to help more people affected by the ever growing issue.
Francine Wright, aged 38, from Handsworth opened Francine’s Community Shop, on Attercliffe Road, around a year and a half ago, and since then has helped over 400 families and individuals fleeing domestic violence.
Now, having recently become a registered charity under the name Rehouse to Rehome, Francine is looking for help in raising funds to rent bigger premises.
She says that will allow her to stock more furniture, and therefore help more people, and will go towards a van to aid delivery of items.
“We take items the general public don't need anymore, anything from cots to beds,” she said. “Organisations then get in touch and tell me they have someone who needs the items, so will we send them to people free of charge.
“We've just been registered as a charity, and aim to continue to support more people and families. I want to raise funds for a bigger premises, as I don’t have the space as the moment for all the furniture coming in."
Earlier this year, Francine was awarded the Woman of Influence award (Children and Families) by South Yorkshire Housing Association for her work within the community and her fundraising efforts to buy Christmas presents for children in need.
She was also recognised for her work in helping families fleeing domestic violence to furnish their homes, and her work in helping those sleeping on the streets by giving them warm clothing.
“I will get calls 24 hours a day, and if I don’t answer I’ll ring them back” she added. "It’s sad, domestic violence is on the rise and a lot of people are in desperate need of beds.”
Francine first got the idea for the shop after going out onto the streets of Sheffield to give out food and sleeping bags to homeless people.
She said: “I went out and was talking to the homeless, taking them food and sleeping bags. I was shocked to see that some people were on the streets due to fleeing domestic violence. For many their biggest fear is to be rehoused with nothing.
“They’ve been through a lot and I wanted to give them a head start and restore their faith in humanity. I’m a big believer in helping others, if you can help why not.”
Francine admits at times it has been a struggle, but she didn’t want to give up helping others.
“We are renting the premises, and we’ve been trying so hard bu there is only so much you can do,” she said. “It has been a struggle. I didn’t want to stop or completely let it go so I had to become a registered charity and ask for help.”
Francine says her work is rewarding, as she regularly keeps in touch with quite a lot of those she has helped, and loves to hear how well they are doing.
Currently she is having to hold off on donations for furniture over the festive periods, and is instead looking for monetary donations so she can buy white goods for people on the lead up to Christmas.
She said: “With the Christmas period coming up I am expecting a lot more calls. I had a call on Monday from a woman living in a property who had been sleeping on the floor for a week with a single sheet and a cooker, no pans.
“In less than 24 hours we had furnished her house. I’m asking people to donate even £1 to support a family. Anyone can get involved with things like fundraising. Without the help of the general public I couldn’t achieve what I have so far.”
Francine also believes that no child who is homeless, or who has fled domestic violence with their parents, should be without a present at Christmas.
Therefore, she is now appealing for people to donate gifts and money so she can ensure no youngsters go without one.
Alternatively visit the shop on 656 Attercliffe Road Sheffield, S9 3RN where you drop off donations.