Our aim at Clothing Collective is to make clothing accessible to those who need it the most.
We feel there is a discrepancy between people who are able to afford the luxury of donating their unwanted clothes to a charity shop and those who can’t afford to buy the clothes themselves.
The donations we receive fund vouchers that food banks and night shelters distribute to vulnerable members of society, to exchange them for clothes in our partner charity shops. Not only does this provide them with clothes, but we are also restoring dignity in the individual by giving them the choice to pick the clothes they want to wear.
This also helps fund the excellent work of local charities, as they get to turn around more stock from their stores across the country, generating additional revenue for their charity.
So far we have handed out 1190 vouchers, partnered with 50 charity shops and supported 395 people in need.
History of Clothing Collective
Our everyday difficult choice.
It’s an unavoidable experience felt by many moving throughout cities across the country; the moment in which you notice an individual with nothing left. People who, with little to no support network, and perhaps without money, food, clothes or shelter, live in our country under society’s radar.
In these moments, I’m left to make a choice. Should I be giving this person money or should I be supporting them some other way? If I do give them money directly, perhaps I’m not truly helping and just exacerbating their situation? One question seems to underpin every encounter of this kind: how can I best support these people?
Having retired from my career in 2018, I found myself one morning waking up and realising I had no responsibility to even get out of bed. My wife had gone to work and my children to school, so if I wanted, I could stay lying in bed all day. What if I wasn’t in my bed, tucked up warm and dry, knowing I had the finances to support myself in the future? What if I was sleeping rough on the streets, with no family or friends, no shelter, no food, no change of clothes, no purpose.
Thinking of ways I could help, I mapped out what I understood to be already existing support for those sleeping rough. There are food banks and soup kitchens providing food to those most in need and there are charities and support units providing short-term and longer-term accommodation. Although provisions for food and shelter already exist, I wasn’t aware of any provision when it came to clothing. Are people just scraping together what they can from wherever they can to protect themselves from the elements?
What if there could be a way to connect those in need with clothes that already exist?
It’s almost ironic that we have a growth in the charity shop sector on our high streets. More people are donating their unwanted clothes to these shops, yet we have this problem wherein people in need are unable to get access to clothes. If a mechanism could be created in which those in need could access the stock held at charity shops, we would not only be providing them with clothes, but we would also be restoring dignity in the individual.
This is the genesis of the vision of Clothing Collective; where any individual in need can readily go into any charity shop, anywhere in the country, and choose their own clothes.
How does it work?
I started partnering with charity shops who would accept vouchers in return for clothing stock held at their shops. I then partnered with charities such as food banks and shelters who would distribute our vouchers to those people in need to redeem them at one of our ‘charity shop partners’.
It’s a win-win scenario: those in need get access to clothing in a humane way, our ‘voucher distributing partners’ are able to support their beneficiaries in an additional way, and our ‘charity shop partners’ are able to turn around more stock from their stores across the country, generating additional revenue for their charity.
For more information, please email Rebecca Milne: email@example.com