Charity shops having to turn away donations after spike following lockdown clear-outs

Lauren Clark
·2-min read
People have been dropping off unwanted items after lockdown clear-outs (Getty Images)
People have been dropping off unwanted items after lockdown clear-outs (Getty Images)

Like other non-essential stores, charity shops opened their doors for the first time last month after weeks of lockdown.

However, they have been inundated with donations after many people spent the pandemic, since March, having clear-outs.

Many have been forced to stop taking in any more unwanted items after a spike in people giving.

According to The Sunday Times, the British Heart Foundation shop in St Ives, Cambridgeshire saw a 197% rise in people dropping off old clothes in the first week of reopening in late June, compared to the same week last year.

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Indeed, they received more than a hundred bags before lunchtime on the first day of welcoming back customers - double the total they would usually take in on a weekday.

Louise Harbour, the charity’s regional director for south England, said: “People have had ample opportunity to clear out at home more than they used to.

“I think that has absolutely driven a big spring clean.”

Similarly, Daniel Holloway, director of retail for the Royal Trinity Hospice charity in London, called the level of donations “mind-blowing”.

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At one of their branches in Pimlico, they had received a number of designer items - including Mulberry bags, Prada shoes and Alexander McQueen clothing

Safety is a top priority, with items being kept quarantined for 72 hours before being steam-cleaned by staff in protective gear.

However, Oxfam are asking customers to also wash and wipe down donations before bringing them in.

It comes after The Guardian recently revealed that Britons are set to get rid of 67 million items of clothing and 22 million pairs of shoes after two in five of us recently got round to a long-awaited wardrobe tidy-up.

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According to the government-backed recycling and reuse body Wrap, people are also parting ways with bedding, household textiles and bags.

On average, they have found people want to get rid of 11 items of clothing.

Almost half - or 49% - wanted to give these unwanted garments to a charity shop or charity bag collection service. However, 14% of planned simply to bin them.

Peter Maddox, the director of Wrap, said the charity sector were prepared for an “unprecedented volume” of items to process.

He asked people to refrain from dumping bags outside charity shops or beside locked donation bins, and - given not all branches are yet open - to check ahead of time which stores were welcoming customers again.

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