UK Dopers: tell me about divorces and gift registries

I can only echo what the others say about getting help with the legal side. There are numerous ways to get that in the UK. Now, is the good lady divorced yet, or merely separated? It sounds as if it is the latter, and that will require negotiation, but essentially the ex is required to provide for her.

Setting up a new household? Been there and done that, at second hand, after the fire in my parants’ house a decade ago. A quick and easy and very cheap way to get furnished is to go to a furniture reclaim store or big charity shop that does furniture. If she can find somebody with a van, you can get free furniture from the small ads - “buyer collects.”

Someone mentioned John Lewis. I gather that they have having big financial problems, I don’t know how that affects business from the customer’s point of view.

I do not recommend sending physical gifts. Anything over around US$50 will attract customs dues, and maybe require you to go across town to pay for it and collect it. You can of course just order something online and have it sent to her address, I do this fairly often.

Of course, the simple answer is just to send money. If she does all the buying, this avoids any possible duplication of purchases.

The challenge she’ll have in the short term is that all non-essentials shops are closed, but if you know what you want, most are doing click and collect or home delivery. Freecycle is a great idea though. Also local facebook groups often do something similar, so it’s worth posting a shout out for free TVs or toasters.

[quote=“Brayne_Ded, post:21, topic:932846”]Someone mentioned John Lewis. I gather that they have having big financial problems, I don’t know how that affects business from the customer’s point of view.

No, it doesn’t. The issue is that they have a suite of big department stores which have obviously taken a huge hit during Covid, but this doesn’t affect online orders. John Lewis aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Worth noting though that they have stopped doing click and collect - they’re an ethical employer that doesn’t want to expose their staff (in fact, all staff are partners - they’re basically a cooperative).

Paying for a gift voucher for somewhere like John Lewis would probably be the best way. They do have gift registries, but it would probably be more helpful to just give her the money and let her buy stuff herself. Argos is one of the other most useful ones.

Once she’s in, if you want to send her a nice plant or something, then ask someone you know, like me, and I’ll send her one from within the UK, and you can pay the favour forward later. IME that’s tricky to do internationally without paying stupid amounts, whereas I could just add an address to one of my plant supplier or Amazon accounts.

I’d also say that it’s well worth her joining her local nextdoor group and facebook group for the area she lives in and posting what she needs, why, and that she doesn’t have a car.

Most people will only be able to offer stuff if she can collect it, which is hard without a car, but there is the occasional person who just wants to get rid of their furniture. And at the moment that’s not that easy to do, and lots of people are moving house or doing up their homes now they’ve spent the last year staring at the same furniture 24hours a day. So she might just get lucky.

You can also hire couriers to collect stuff from Ebay. That’s the way I got most of my white goods.

One advantage of John Lewis (though, as has been mentioned, they are not the cheapest) is that their vouchers are also accepted at Waitrose - a higher-end supermarket that’s part of the same company. That does mean that even if your friend can’t find anything instore that’s really what she’s looking for or winds up with leftovers, it can be used for groceries. They do good wine and cheese.

It might just be me, but I find the risk with vouchers is that it can end in a kind of sunk-cost-ish situation, where the recipient feels the need to use the vouchers even though they wind up having to put more in more cash than they were originally planning to spend, to get something nice.

I hope she has helpful friends with cars? Paying couriers is possible, but does add up fast if you’re trying to kit a place out all at once.

Helpful friends with cars isn’t really feasible under lockdown restrictions, unfortunately (and you can easily feel like you’re using up favours you might need another time). TBH couriers aren’t too bad, anyway, and only necessary for secondhand items - first hand will always be delivered, often for free or a fiver.

Heh, sometimes I think we live in totally different worlds. In my friend group, the helpful person with a car has if anything, been even more important during lockdown- who wants to get on public transport to do the shopping right now? And delivery slots have been like hen’s teeth in many areas.

In fact, picking stuff up for other people is such a regular thing in my social group that, no kidding, my hobby actually has an entire sub-group dedicated to doing exactly that, country wide, largely to avoid courier fees. You can get something picked up at one end of the country- often by someone you’ve never even met- get it passed on at events (obviously this isn’t happening right now, though the few people who travel for work are still doing some pickups) handed to someone going in your general direction and eventually delivered to you at your local club/event/house, usually with friendly notes or doodles written on the box by the people involved. It’s practically seen as a game.

It’s probably because I live in London, very few people I know have a car, and driving here is unpleasant enough that you feel mean asking someone to do it without pay (or you should feel that way, anyway). A helpful friend of mine got rid of her car eventually and said she was relieved, actually, because so few of her friends had cars that she helped with moving or collecting stuff practically every weekend.

But I would have thought coronavirus would make it more difficult - it’d mean bringing your friends into your house and exposing them to a virus risk. Unless it wasn’t a very heavy item, in which case you wouldn’t need a car to begin with.

The things I’ve dropped off have been dropped outside, for the most part- and if it needs to be dropped off inside, someone’s coming in either way. If the choice is between that being a friend- who I know possess a functioning brain or we wouldn’t be friends- vs an unknown courier, who’s going round lots of different houses, potentially with no precautions whatsoever, well, I know who I’d rather have come in. I did have a friend help me move, which I did a month ago- we kept distance, we wore masks, and we only hung round and chatted a bit outside in the parking area, and I hadn’t been further than the local shop in over a week. Pretty low risk.

I’m normally the one with the car anyway- and yes, I do avoid driving in London whenever possible. That is one plus of Covid though- have you seen the M25 lately? You can actually drive on it! At 5pm on a week day even!

It could theoretically be something (or several things) that was possible to get up to an apartment alone, or in batches, but bulky or awkward to carry or otherwise not really possible to haul on a bus or on foot from a bus stop (and I don’t think she is doing public transit these days anyway - her daily errands can all be done on foot). Dishes/cookware? A small flat-packed table or chairs or bookshelf? Bulky linens? Lots of options, though I guess some of those could be managed with a wheeled grocery cart. You should have seen the amount of stuff that she and I hauled through the NYC subway in college on a luggage cart! But we were younger and more robust then…

It’s really easy to get all of that stuff delivered anyway, so it’s not a problem.