Published: 17 Nov 2021  |  Category: Housing  |  Stage: We are preparing for a family to arrive

Food, furniture and household items

Recommendations for how to furnish a property for a refugee family

Community Sponsorship groups will need to provide equipment, groceries and other basic items in the property ahead of a refugee family’s arrival. Like with anyone, there will be personal and cultural preferences around food and household items, and you will want to strike a balance between giving refugees choices about what is in their home, and providing the things they need.

Some groups have told us that they have ensured that enough is provided in the property to start the family off, but they have made some budget available to enable the refugee families to make choices about what they would like in the property.

Basics checklist

In the download on this page, we have provided a checklist of the commonly supplied ‘basics’ for furnishing and equipping a house for refugees. All groceries suggested are non-perishable items, so as part of your first few days of supporting the family, you should plan in a food shopping trip or explain how to purchase fresh products.

When looking for furniture and household items, we know some groups have successfully secured donations from local or national businesses as a ‘gift in kind’ and groups, such as North Hackney Welcome Project, set up gift lists with large retailers and asked their community, social media followers and supporters to purchase direct from their list!

Other items

Ensure that smoke alarms are fitted in the property and the purpose and use of these is explained to the family. Make sure to include information about how these are activated (we’ve all set these off at one time or another through cooking!) and what to do in the event of an activation. Smoke alarms are not commonplace in the Middle East. 

It is best to provide window coverings (e.g. blinds/net curtains) throughout the property. See preparing the accommodation for more information.

Appropriate flooring should be provided throughout. We have found that many refugee families are not used to/do not like wood or laminate flooring. Remember that you could supply rugs for the property or this could be a great opportunity for the family you are supporting to make a choice about what is in their home.  

Highchairs for children are not widely used in the Middle East. We suggest that if you are supporting a family with young children, you discuss whether this is something that they would like you to provide or help them purchase.

Finally, make sure you cut a set of house keys for each adult member of the family, and provide cards with their written address on which they can easily keep in their wallet/purse (we do know of family members who have gotten lost and struggled to remember their address!).

A hot meal for arrival

We would suggest thinking about making a hot meal available on arrival. Keep in mind that as well as cultural preferences, there will be personal preferences for what is eaten, so a general rule of thumb is to stick to a vegetarian meal and ensure the family know what is in it. If you plan to provide a cooked meal with meat in it, then in case the family only eat halal meat, it’s best to keep the packaging so that the family can see for themselves that the meat used in the meal is indeed halal and suitable for their dietary requirements. You could also consider having local takeaway menus available that you order and purchase, enabling the family to make a choice. 


Food, furniture and household Items checklist [111.4KB] Download .PDF