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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

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Cumbrian charity shops feel pinch with people cashing in on clothing

Struggling families are trading their unwanted items for cash rather than donating them to charity.

Charity Ann Marie Crowe photo
Ann Marie Crowe working in the Botchergate Op Shop

Charity shops throughout Cumbria have reported a drop in the number of people bringing in clothes, toys and other goods.

They believe many are opting to receive money for their items instead in an attempt to make ends meet.

Thomke Polglaze, manager of the Op Shop in Botchergate, Carlisle, said: “Donations have definitely dropped in the past year.

“Fewer people have been coming in with bags of clothing and it seems to be since the Cash 4 Clothes shop opened in Carlisle.

“People need money wherever they can get it these days.”

Dawn Pearson, a volunteer at the Save the Children charity shop in Scotch Street in Carlisle, said they have also noticed the number of donations plummet.

“I think it has happened over a period of time,” she explained.

“There are a lot more charity shops around now and people are being more careful with their money – it’s the same for all of us.

“These shops which offer cash for clothes are also bound to have an effect but we just have to get by like everyone else.”

Staff at Age UK in Carlisle’s Lowther Street are struggling to keep up with demand from shoppers as donations of clothes, cookware and books have fallen dramatically in the last three months.

And volunteers at the Oxfam shop in Cockermouth say they have never seen it so quiet.

June Woods said: “I don’t know what’s happened. I think some people are giving things to the places that buy old clothing so they can get a little money for them. It’s very slow.”

However not all charity shops are suffering. The Samaritans store in Botchergate takes in bags of donations every day.

Manageress Pat Mooney said: “I haven’t noticed any change – we can’t sell enough toys.

“We did think donations might drop with people looking for money for their things instead but it hasn’t happened so far.”

Cash 4 Clothes opened on Carlisle’s Viaduct Estate Road about two years ago and customers are paid 50p per kilo for their unwanted clothing. Patrick, an employee at the store, said it is a “booming business” but doesn’t think it will have a negative impact on charity shops.

He explained: “People can bring in whatever they want to get rid of, we check it’s okay and clean and we give them cash on the spot – nice and easy.

“The company then takes it away and I don’t know what happens to it but I think it is sent abroad.

“A lot of people tell me they were going to take their things to a charity shop but they need the money.

“But I think if you have 10,000 people here a third will come to us.

“Then another a third will go to charity shops out of principle and the other third will dump their stuff in skips.”

The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) also relies on donations from the public.

Mandy Drake, head of fundraising, said the last few years have been “incredibly challenging” but sound financial planning and an increased presence has seen the charity emerge from the recession stronger. But she added: “This does not mean the battle is won because the Pride of Cumbria still costs around £1.5m a year to support, all of which has to be raised through public donations.”

She thanked the people of Cumbria for their generosity as the Pride of Cumbria approaches its 10th birthday in the county.

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