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Everyone struggles when they first set up their own home. If you’re lucky, you might get the odd piece of furniture, some curtains or bedding from family or friends – but how do you furnish a whole flat – or even a house?

When we’re constantly bombarded with adverts for the likes of Bright House, DFS, Oak Furnitureland, Ikea etc, the bar is set very high for how your lounge should look.

The good news is that for those on a tight budget, a new supplier known as Orange Box has arrived in the marketplace, supplying reliable, high quality furniture at very affordable prices.

The community interest company recycles and sells good quality used furniture, providing affordable prices for those on low incomes. The business trades from a depot close to central Newcastle.

Isos already works very closely with Orange Box, with an arrangement which sees Orange Box staff collect any saleable furniture or electrical items that have been left behind by former Isos tenants when they vacate our properties.

But Isos also wanted to test out exactly how far we could make a small budget stretch when buying from Orange Box.

So our colleagues Claire Everden and Tracey Bryant set out to furnish one of our smaller void properties, with a budget of just £200.

Claire and Tracey needed to find enough furniture to turn a one bedroom flat in Lynemouth, Northumberland into a proper home – and they were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the goods they found, and the prices.

Claire said: “We were a bit unsure how this challenge was going to go – we knew we needed quite a lot of furniture to make the flat really ‘liveable’.

“But when we arrived at Orange Box, there was a huge amount of choice, and the prices meant we could buy quite a good selection of items and still stay within our budget.

“We were especially pleased with the bright red sofa, and the bedroom furniture – they really make the flat look smart.

“Sometimes people think second hand furniture is going to be old fashioned, or dated, but we had a great range of styles to choose from, and we don’t feel like we had to compromise on quality.

“We’ve been directing our tenants to low cost furniture suppliers for many years, but now with the benefits system being reformed and furniture becoming ever more unaffordable, we’ve really had to step up our efforts, and our work with Orange Box is the result.”

What did Claire and Tracey buy?

Sofa £30

Table & chair £35

Coffee table £5

Bed £5

Wardrobe £45

Chest of drawers £15

Fridge £30

Microwave £10

Bread bin £5

For more details of the service provided by Orange Box, go to www.orangeboxnortheast.org.uk/ or look up the facebook page at www.facebook.com/orangeboxnortheast

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