Our goal: to end clothing poverty across the UK
Thousands of the 14 million people living in poverty in the UK become trapped in the situation they find themselves in simply because they can't afford basic but appropriate clothing for themselves and their families. At Sharewear we aim to do something about this.
People can fall into poverty for a variety of reasons.
When adults become trapped in persistent poverty they are excluded from society -- they can't earn a wage, they can't take part in community and social life, and their children grow up with limited life opportunities through lack of access to basic or enriched education and training. This prevents them from reaching their full potential and continues the cycle of persistent poverty.
And yet -- we at Sharewear know that no-one need find themselves in this situation simply due to lack of access to clothes. With so much clothing waste in the system, both in our own homes and within the fashion industry, there is no reason why anyone should have nothing to wear.
By providing clothing to those who need it most we truly help them to combat crisis and create change in their own lives. We are the space where clothing poverty meets clothing waste and we have a tried and tested model that can easily be rolled out to the areas of the country that need our service most.
By providing people with others' unwanted but high quality clothes the problems of social exclusion can be combatted to such an extent that people get back into work or training, children who weren't attending school due to lack of uniform get back into the classroom and even hospital patients who can't rehabilitate due to lack of access to day clothes can get home and free up crucial NHS beds at the same time.
"It's turned everything around in the whole family" said 'John', who had been referred to us because his family were spiralling into anti-social behaviour and crime. He couldn't get a job and needed clothes for all his children, as well as interview clothes. One of his children hadn't attended school for months. With the clothing support he got from us 'John' got a job and his son started attending school again because he "wanted to leave the house with his dad in the morning and catch the same bus."
Why Sheffield and Surrounding Areas?
After supporting over 20,000 people in six years in Nottinghamshire, during 2020 we have advanced our plans for expansion by making bulk outreach deliveries to the following organisations, who desperately need quality clothing for the people they support.
Ashiana, Framework Street Outreach Team (including Ben's Centre and the Cathedral Archer Project), and Baby Basics.
Collecting and sorting clothes is time consuming, labour intensive and a drain on resources. By having pre-sorted and categorised clothing deliveries on request from us, these organisations have been able to easily add clothing for people aged newborn to ninety, to their support offer or improve their existing limited clothing stocks. But our research shows us that other organisations in the city and beyond also need our support, such as Roundabout and St Wilfrid's Centre. Beyond these organizations, there are of course countless others as well as the various teams within adult and children's social care who would all benefit from our clothing, shoes, coats and bedding.
Impact of Being Located in Sheffield
Our main Nottingham base operates in two ways, one of which is through outreach deliveries to organisations as outlined above. But the other way in which we operate is our greatest strength and the main reason why a base in Sheffield is so important. We provide people in poverty with the basic dignity of choice. Any public or charity sector organisation in the city which supports people in any kind of economic crisis or vulnerable situation will be able to refer them into our new Sheffield base. Once there, they will be able to browse and choose exactly the type of clothing and bedding that they need for themselves and their families.
Once they have been referred to us once, there is no need for another referral as people can return to us as their situation changes. They may move from sofa-surfing to being in a position to apply for jobs. Their initial clothing need is very different from the second one. Their children may be growing out of clothes every three months and need ongoing support. And from our Sheffield base we will easily be able to deliver in bulk to organisations in Rotherham, Doncaster, Bawtry, Worksop and surrounding areas. As one of the eight English cities in the Core City Group, https://www.corecities.com/ and with a population over 200,000 greater than Nottingham, the rapidly expanding city of Sheffield is an obvious location for our first referral centre outside of Nottinghamshire, due to its high levels of deprivation.
Our research shows us that the vast S6 postcode is the perfect location. Not only would S6 Foodbank be able to refer people to our centre for the choice of a full range of clothes, but the great transport links the tram brings to an area like Hillsborough make it the best placed spot that people can easily get to for support. With its proximity to M1 junctions 33 for southbound locations and 36 for northbound, Hillsborough is also the ideal location from which to make our bulk outreach deliveries, maximising the impact of our presence in the city.
Why Sharewear Clothing Scheme?
We are the only UK registered charity which specialises solely in alleviating clothing poverty to transform people's lives and the communities in which they live. We are completely independent of any umbrella organisation and have a 'horizontal' approach to our work. By this we mean that the volunteers on which we initially rely for support at our bases are a part of decision making from day one, giving them personal investment in our work. This means we have a high retention rate of volunteers, which enables them to gain skills for employment. Not only are we helping those who have our clothes to transform their lives but we are helping our own volunteers to do so too. We are proud to provide volunteering opportunities for ex-offenders, rehabilitating addicts, young people, people with learning difficulties and special needs, and asylum seekers. And most importantly, once we have gained support and funding as a result of our ground-breaking work, we are able to provide employment opportunities for our volunteers who have permission to work.
The great success of using this model in Nottingham for the last six years leads us to say with confidence that we can easily replicate it in Sheffield and eventual further locations.
Our achievements in carrying out everything we have highlighted here, and more, have been recognised with multiple awards, including the 'One Nottingham' award to our Founder Louise Cooke for the contribution Sharewear's support has made to that city, and in January 2020 we were named as one of the The Big Issue's Top 100 UK Changemakers.
The Journey Continues
In 2013 Matt, featured in our video, recognised the need for free clothing support after two years of volunteering at his local foodbank. His mum, Louise, began the task of researching the need in more detail, as well as collecting clothes and building support, including a tiny volunteer team. This family seeded 'social experiment ' has grown since its first opening in March 2014 into a regional charity that has not only supported over 20,000 people, but has provided skills and opportunities to over around 100 volunteers. Through the passion and dedication of everyone involved in the organisation in that time, Sharewear has quite rightly gained the reputation as THE place where clothing poverty meets clothing waste. This ongoing journey took us to the heart of the fashion industry in February 2020 when we exhibited and spoke publicly, to great acclaim, at the internationally renowned Pure London Fashion Show. 2020 has also seen the expansion of our industry sponsorship plans, with several companies having already signed up to support us and others still in negotiation.
Spending the Money we Raise and What you Gain from Supporting Us
With the £10,000 we aim to raise in this campaign we will rent premises in Hillsborough, Sheffield or elsewhere in S6 postcode for use as a referral and distribution centre, as outlined. Simply by having physical premises in the city, other income and funding streams will become available to us, to enable us to continue serving those people in Sheffield who desperately need us. Due to our existing vast network of clothes donors from across the UK, we already have enough clothing and bedding to fully stock a base, and replenish stock for months ahead, so once we have rented premises we will be able to start supporting people immediately.
For those located in Sheffield, our presence there will provide unique volunteering opportunities for you and your young people, as well as a place to donate your unwanted but good quality clothing -- safe in the knowledge that it will be used for good. So many of our current supporters contact us to say how much it meant to them to see their loved ones clothes featured in one of our anonymous social media impact stories.
For everyone who supports us there is a range of five rewards on offer -- the most exciting of which perhaps being the chance to be in good company with celebrities, by wearing one of our limited edition awareness raising campaign T-shirts.
We hope to welcome you soon as one of the seeds that makes Sharewear Sheffield appear, because no-one in Sheffield should have #NothingToWear