Comfi sleep on the way for struggling island families

Comfi sleep on the way for struggling island families

Paul Mitchell, Gulf News, 10 November 2022

An Auckland-based mattress company is setting up a new programme to help Waiheke families in need sleep easier.  Comfi, an online seller of New Zealand-made beds, was founded as a social enterprise that gives a mattress, base and pillow to a child in need for every five mattresses sold.

According to the 2018 Child Poverty Monitor, more than one in 10 Kiwi children don’t have their own bed. They either have to share, sleep on a couch or on the floor. This puts them at higher risk of catching infectious diseases – around 15,000 children are admitted to hospital each year with medical issues related to poor housing conditions. It also means they have poor-quality sleep. 

Comfi co-founder Susie Harris says the company has made a difference for many struggling families across Auckland, and now hopes to do the same on Waiheke.  A Waiheke homeowner, Susie knows how difficult it can be to get furniture delivered to the island, so Comfi is trialling a distribution strategy that will reduce costs for paying customers and allow the company to donate beds to island families.

Psychologist and founder of sleep health clinic Sleep Loop Gareth O’Don[1]nell says mattresses, ideally, should be replaced every eight years – since research shows high concentrations of allergens such as dust mites and mould build up in them over time. 

But even for people who can afford that, living on a relatively isolated island, often in properties with steep driveways – on top of the high-cost of shipping and challenges around removing used fur[1]niture – can create barriers to replacing mattresses, he says.

Susie says Comfi is trying to remove the “pain points” of getting a bed to Waiheke, and one of the biggest is shipping costs. So the company is going to send mattresses to the island a container at a time, before they are sold or donated locally. “The scale created by the bulk shipment of the mattresses means the cost of delivery is spread over dozens of households and can be absorbed by the organisers,” Susie says.

On-island delivery will be free for everybody, and Comfi is working with Waiheke Budgeting Services and Habitat for Humanity to find island families who could use a good, donated bed. Budgeting Services manager Amelia Lawley says they don’t usually deal with furniture, so this is a new service and they’re still working out the details with Comfi. “But considering how expensive good mattresses are, I imagine a lot of people we help have to sleep on some pretty bad beds, “ she says, “[so] it’s a lovely idea, and will be well received”. Amelia says when people are struggling for food, proper bedding is fairly far down their list of priorities, so this will definitely help improve lives. “It can’t be understated the value of having a good mattress – for your back, especially with growing children, and your sleep”. Plus, the money households save on a donated bed can go towards paying food and essential bills, she says. The beds donated directly by Comfi will also be supplemented with beds saved from the Waiheke Transfer Station – as long as they are in good condition.

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