Everyone's a winner when charity begins in our workplaces
HANGING on to those trousers you hope to fit into again, or that dress you bought in the sale and never wore? You're not alone.
Researchers have found that in the past year we left an astonishing 1.7billion items of clothing unworn — that's an average of 28 items for every man, woman and child in Britain.
And, shame to say, me too! I'm every bit as guilty as the next woman when it comes to having stuff in the back of the wardrobe I am probably never going to wear. And neither do I always pack them up to drop them off at a charity shop either despite the fact they are all crying out for donations .
But that is now changing. For growing numbers of them are getting behind the wheel and going out into the workplace to get their goods, rather than waiting for the donations to come through their door.
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It is a win-win situation for those of us who are natural hoarders and for an animal rescue group which is always working at full capacity, says Swansea's Llys Nini's Sally Hyman — the RSPCA is one of a string of charities now offering workplace or home pick-ups.
"It makes sense for us to get out there and collect from offices and we try to have the van out most days.
"You know what it is like -— we know we should donate things and most of us have things we can give, but when you start thinking about finding somewhere to park and unload the car, you don't do it as often as you should.
"So we come to you if we can. It makes sense when people have busy lives for us to go to their place of work."
The RSPCA van pulls up at many of the big employers in the city throughout the year including the DVLA and the libraries, as well as at smaller firms. And if companies want to get on board the scheme they can phone the charity to book a visit.
This week, it also included the Evening Post's Swansea offices in its round-up of goods.
A regular donor through the work visits, Dawn Taylor, 37, from Brithwen Road in Waunarlwydd, says having a date in her diary for the collection gives her the extra motivation she needs to fill up her boot the night before.
"I have no excuse not to donate the things I don't need any more if they are coming to me,'' she adds.
"It just puts 5 minutes on my morning to load the car up. I have pets myself and I like to support Llys Nini when I can. But it isn't easy to lug boxes into my local branch at the weekend or to stay out of the way of the traffic wardens if I am unloading outside the shop.
"But I have a load of things I have kept for that car boot sale I never actually get around to doing, and it is good to know those things are going to help look after animals, rather than cluttering up my house."
Sally says Llys Nini always does well out of the visits.
"We can sell the best items in our shops.
"The things we can't sell there we can recycle, and poor quality things, or blankets and sheets, we can use for the animals at the centre, so we would tell people to give whatever they have."
The recession has hit the level of donations of course, with more people holding on to goods they would previously have discarded sooner.
"And people are selling clothes and other things on eBay they might have donated to us in the past," says Sally.
"So that has an impact on us. And most of our funds come from our seven charity shops."
A run of bad weather or particularly treacherous roads also means donors, who are mostly elderly, don't get out to give.
Llys Nini itself is always at capacity, and with a waiting list for animals to go in, so the need is pressing.
That charity and others have also been prompted to take a different tack to gathering in goods after a spate of thefts of full collection bags from people's doorsteps.
Over the past few months most of the charity shops have put out direct appeals because donations are down.
Barnados, The British Heart Foundation and Oxfam have called on the public in South West Wales for everything from cosy knits, winter coats, books, unwanted Christmas gifts and CDs and DVDs, with TV star and singer Cilla Black calling on anyone who had a heart to donate a previously-owned album to their local charity shop.
Last summer Oxfam asked Brits nationwide to donate 500,000 books, with an appeal launched by Stephen Fry and Ruby Wax at the Hay Festival.
Swansea's Oxfam bookshop manager Phil Broadhurst adds: "We all own books which sit unread on our bookshelves – and by donating just a few of them to Oxfam, people can make a real difference to the lives of those living in poverty around the world."
Want to get involved? Contact Llys Nini on 01792 229435