Corrie Young discovers a Fife Vincentian project that puts furniture where it’s needed most.
The Saint Vincent de Paul Furniture Project in Fife doesn’t advertise, but it’s always been able to reach those who need to be reached.
“We work very hard, not only in Fife but all over, because poverty is all over. Poverty doesn’t stay in postcodes,” Moira McCrae, one half of the duo told me.
“We always went that extra mile because we know what poverty is and what it can do to families. We have customers that have grown up, got families of their own, and have come back to us. We’ve got old men, refugees, we’ve got everything. They care about us and we care about them.”
Moira McCrae and David Hunter teamed up decades ago to save the project after its founder passed. The main- stay of the project remains uplifting and refurbishing furniture and delivering it to those desperate for a bed, table or chair.
Both retired, the project takes up as much – and often more – time than a full-time job. With the core of the group being just two people, they rely heavily on donations and help from local business.
They have also worked with Shield, a charity in Dunfermline set up during the pandemic. Headed by Sarah Keeble, they deliver food parcels, clothing, and home-cooked meals to those in need.
“I invited her for a cup of tea and together we are helping each other,” McCrae said.
“A businessman gave me a storage unit free so that we have somewhere we can put our goods and they’re safe. He isn’t Catholic, but he’s quite happy to listen to me talk about where’s Hell and Heaven!”
I asked Moira how much her Faith played a part in her work.
“Your Faith comes into it a lot when you’re sitting with people and they’re not religious. They ask me questions, ‘What makes you do this when you could be at home painting your nails?’
“Well, twenty years ago I might have wanted to paint my nails, but ten grand-children and a heavy dose of work for St Vincent de Paul Furniture Project puts things into perspective.”
David Hunter said that being able to witness first-hand the help they give people is his main driving force.
“The relief on people’s faces when we help them, especially when they realise we don’t charge money, is incredible.
“We had a couple who were sleeping on their sofa, that was their bed. They had nothing else in their house. We gave them a house load. They had a smile on their face, and that makes all the difference.”
David noted a Good Friday that was particularly memorable.
“A young girl with lung problems was getting out the hospital for the weekend. The family needed a bed for her. I found one and took it over,” he reflected.
“The mum and I managed to get it into the lobby, and just at that moment the dad arrived home with his daughter. She was wearing a mask and he was carrying her oxygen tank.
“Her three-year-old sister had come out to see her, ran and gave her a hug in front of us for two-to-three minutes. That was wonderful to see. But quite emotional too.”
David said that the emotional support came together with the material support. Those that they help know that there’s people they can go to, who actively want to make sure they have what they need. Sometimes, a big difference can be made ‘by just showing face,’ he said.
The two are both incredibly active, with David aged seventy-four and Moira turning seventy in December. Moira told me that she has witnessed furniture poverty get worse.
The two are hoping that more people will become involved to help in any way so that the project will continue. “The hardest part is not having. I have the easy part. I just have to drop off furniture. The recipient [is] worrying about money or food,” he said.
David told me, “It’s a good job that we do,” but corrected himself: “It’s not a job. It’s a vocation.”