Satsuma is absolutely delighted to be backing an army of Suffolk mums who have rolled their sleeves up to completely transform the homes of those struggling with furniture poverty, mental health or family wellbeing.
Every year we find a worthy cause to back – offering free PR, social media support, advice on fundraising and more – and time around we have become buddies with the wonderful Sacha Naylor and Rebecca May Marston who created homemaking venture Dora Brown.
The pair had discovered that hundreds of children in Suffolk didn’t have beds to sleep in – let alone suitable bedrooms – and that there were also families across the region without storage for clothes, food or toys, who lived in cluttered, chaotic homes that had become unsanitary and unhygienic.
Their social enterprise, which is pending charitable status, started work clearing, cleaning and redressing homes where families were struggling – with their work attracting the support of Suffolk County Council and Ormiston Families.
But as referrals ramped up they were desperate for help securing financial donations – and volunteers – to keep up.
Satsuma has stepped in with a raft of contacts, a great press release or two and a big loud voice across social media.
And since then, the venture has grown from strength to strength.
We have been blown away by the group’s determination to make lives better for people – and the fact that absolutely no amount of grime stops them getting stuck in!
“We have tackled living conditions that most of us simply can’t imagine,” said Sacha, a mother of three. “We have recently helped a single mother with several children – one of which has profound and multiple learning difficulties.
“In one room, three children were sharing one dirty mattress with no bedding on it and the home had no working toilets. The mother had to make choices you can’t even fathom – food or soap, heating or loo rolls, clothes or cleaning products.
“They had no furniture, so rooms were strewn with belongings. It was a desperate and tragic situation.”
Rebecca, also a mum of three, says sometimes it’s the little touches that mean the most to the families they work with.
“We always gift a fruit bowl and absolutely fill it on the day we leave,” she said. “Last time we did this one of the children wanted to know if the fruit was actually real.
“There was also a mother we worked with who hadn’t been able to shower for months. To give her a working bathroom, toiletries, sanitary products, shampoo, conditioner, soap and cleaning products was like watching your kids open Christmas presents on Christmas morning.
“All we are really doing here is a bit of homemaking – making a space where families want to be, a real home where they are safe and warm and not just a sad and desperate space where they are lost and socially isolated.”
It costs the team approximately £1,500 per referral and that includes skip and van hires, storage purchases and necessities for the kitchens and bathrooms.
Across Suffolk their work has attracted an army of supportive businesses and organisations – including the Hygiene Bank which provides toiletries and Cotton Tree Interiors that donates remnant fabrics made into blinds and other home necessities.
Sackers have also donated skips.