Charity shops petition to save donations
10 May 2012
The Scope charity shops in Bromley South, Petts Wood, Beckenham Junction and Orpington are asking customers to sign a petition calling for Bromley Council to reverse its decision to evict charities from 'bring bank' sites on 31 May.
The petition is backed by the Charity Retail Association, which is running a nationwide campaign calling on councils not to adopt similar schemes.
Bromley Council has decided to invite waste giant Veolia to take over clothes recycling banks on its designated sites. The decision means that charities will no longer be able to use the sites to collect clothes donations.
The council says the move will generate between £75,000 and £135,000, because Veolia will sell on the contents of the banks and give the council a cut.
Scope, which runs 34 banks on the Bromley Council sites, estimates that the changes will cost the organisation £360,000.
For Scope the plans are not only damaging to its work with disabled people, but are fundamentally flawed.
Residents, the charity argues, do not recycle their clothes in the same way that they recycle bottles or paper. People are donating rather than throwing out their clothes and therefore expect them to go to a good cause.
The reaction to the Council's plans from local people underlines this flaw and suggests that the scheme will not make the money the council expects.
The shop managers will deliver the petition to the council ahead of the 31 May deadline to remove the clothing banks.
Bromley Council’s plans follow similar moves last year by Northumberland and Hertfordshire County Councils. A group of London councils is now looking at a London-wide textile recycling scheme.
Wendy Howden, Acting Shop Manager at the Scope charity shop in Bromley, said:
"We have had a really good response so far. People aren't throwing their clothes out when they put them in the banks. They are donating them to a good cause. They are giving them to charity shops because they know that the shops will sell them to raise vital funds. They know that any profits go to support vital work - such as the work Scope does with disabled people and their families."
Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of the disability charity Scope, said:
"We understand that all councils have to make tough spending decisions following cuts to their budgets. But plans to sell the clothing bank sites off to private companies will cost charities like Scope millions in donations.
“In London alone, Scope’s 163 banks represent more than £1.5 million worth of support for the charity’s work with disabled people. The council might make a small amount of money, but this will have a serious impact on our work with disabled people and their families.
“Every item of clothing someone puts in one of our banks ends up in a Scope shop. If private companies take over clothing bank sites, they’ll sell the clothes on for a profit, and give a cut to the council. Is this really what the public wants to happen when it donates unwanted clothes? We urge councils to think twice before deciding to sell off these sites. They make a big difference by supporting the work of charities, like Scope.”
Notes to the Editor:
Interviews and photos of the Scope staff hosting the petition can be arranged. Please contact the Press Office.
Clothing bank petition
“We the undersigned petition Bromley Council to: Reverse its decision to evict charity clothing banks from council ‘bring bank’ sites and invite a private company to take over textile recycling. Bromley Council will make between £75,000 and £135,000-a-year from the plans. But charity shops and the charities they support stand to lose hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of donations. While residents who donate clothes will no longer see them go to a good cause. We need your help to make sure your donated clothes go to the charity to which they are intended.”
Background on textile banks
Councils have traditionally provided charities with sites where they could set up banks for people to donate clothes. Charities, like Scope, empty the banks and take the contents to their shops where they sell anything of value, and manage the recycling of the rest. All the profit goes to the charity.
Last year Hertfordshire and Northumberland County Council decided to take control of the banks from charities, and offer the rights to emptying and recycling of the contents for a fee. Private companies have taken them over. As a result, Scope lost 46 banks in Herts and Northumberland, which generated at least £400,000.
Hertfordshire County Council has been promoting this plan to councils in London. London Councils’ Environment Committee is now looking into a pan-London textile recycling contract.