Rag firms are costing us dear, says hospice

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Worried charity fundraisers dedicated to gathering in cash to support vital local hospice services say that commercial firms collecting rags for recyling could be costing them up to £250,000 a year.

The team at Keech Hospice Care, which operates charity shops in the Dacorum area and provides specialist children’s hospice services for the county, says the growing number of rag trade collectors is siphoning off donations of stock which provide a crucial revenue stream for the good cause.

Cash-for-clothing stores appearing on high streets and companies which offer doorstep collection commonly offer £5 per bin bag of clothes and then sell what they collect on to second-hand clothing companies in Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Keech retail manager Philip Kojcinovic said: “These rag trade collectors are costing us and other charities thousands of pounds, impacting on our stock and affecting our takings.

“We estimate that in terms of stock value, we could be losing out on as much as £5,000 per week, which equates to a £250,000 a year

“Because of this, we have to work harder to keep our shops stocked with quality items because Keech does not pay people for the items they donate.

“We just have to hope people will think twice about it, but these are difficult times economically.”

A consumer study by the Charity Retail Association last year found that 16 per cent of the 1,822 people surveyed nationwide had switched from donating clothes to charity shops to selling them because of the economic downturn.

Hospice chief executive Mike Keel added: “Our shops play an important role in helping to raise funds but they need a regular supply of good quality stock. We would very much like to encourage people to take donations to reputable charity shops.”