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Rags to Riches: How even very old clothes can provide charities with much needed income

Victoria Claridge

Our recent volunteering day at Wakefield Hospice Warehouse gave us a valuable insight into the world of clothing donations, their charitable value, and just how hard the employees and volunteers behind the scenes work.

Wakefield Hospice, based close to Pinderfields Hospital, provides vital care and support to local patients with life-limiting conditions, and their families, across the Wakefield district. The Hospice was a brainchild of a group of eight nursing sisters approaching retirement who felt the area would benefit from a Hospice. Due to over expected funding requirements, extensive additional fund-raising efforts were required, with the Hospice completed in April 1990 when it accepted its first patients.

The Hospice relies on the income made from donations to its warehouse, which are used to supply their eight retail outlets in and around Wakefield, as well as on their eBay store.

We were lucky enough to join their dedicated team for a day of accepting donations and filtering items ready for sale in store. The warehouse itself employs a small team but relies heavily on volunteers to help with the large volume of donations they receive.

For obvious reasons, charity shops want good quality clothing they can sell, but what we weren’t aware of was the value of old clothes, textiles, and fabrics that are worn and used beyond further use. Rags can be sold by the charity to the rag trade where they are cleaned and shredded for future use. The rags are graded according to their quality. Low grade textiles might be recycled into industrial cloths, carpets, underlay or mattress linings and good quality clothing is transported to Africa and other developing nations where they will be re-used.

We must say, this was news to us and, in future, we will be less reluctant to throw old clothes away and more likely to send them to the charity shop.

It is important to note that Wakefield Hospice ask that any rags are separated and clearly marked so that they can be sorted quickly in the warehouse.

Wakefield Hospice has a list of items that they accept on their website which includes:

  • Good quality clothing
  • Good quality footwear, handbags, accessories, and jewellery
  • Furniture, homewares, electrical and white goods that are in good condition and working order
  • Books, CDs, and DVDs in good condition and working order
  • Antiques and valuable items which can be auctioned on eBay or suitable for their vintage shop

There is also a list of items on their website that they are unable to accept.

The charity can also collect large items of furniture and white goods by appointment if you contact them on 01924 383 294, and their new House Clearance service, launching in February 2023, will provide another avenue for goods to be donated to their warehouse.

So, get clearing out your old clothes and items and don’t forget, one man’s rags can indeed be another man’s riches.

Wakefield Hospice accepts donations at their warehouse on Tadman Street, Wakefield, WF1 5QU and opening times are detailed on their website.