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More vigilance needed to tackle fake charity clothing collection banks

The Textile Recycling Association (TRA) is calling for more to be done to tackle fake and unlicensed charity clothing bank operators, following a feature in the Fake Britain programme broadcast on the BBC this week (9 January). 

More vigilance needed to tackle fake charity clothing collection banks
The Fake Britain programme highlighted unregistered banks with no contact details
Charity clothes banks provide a simple way for the public to give unwanted clothes to good causes and save them from the landfill, but this week’s edition of Fake Britain highlighted the issue of some banks in Essex bearing the branding ‘Kids Go Green’, which is not a registered charity and which contained no contact details.

Commenting on the issue of fake clothes banks, Alan Wheeler, Director of the TRA, which represents UK collectors, sorters, processors and exporters of used clothing and textiles, said that landowners, local authorities and legitimate clothes-bank operators should be taking greater action to report the fake banks.

He said: “The vast majority of clothing collection banks are operated in a legitimate and bona fide manner and help to raise millions of pounds for proper charitable causes.

“However, unscrupulous operators are simply dumping clothing collection banks on sites without any permission from landowners or site operators and are profiteering through deceiving the public and a lack of action to get these banks removed.”

Reporting fake clothes banks

The process for getting unlicensed clothing banks removed in a legal manner is relatively straightforward, and the TRA is urging everyone who spots a dumped bank to report it by contacting them. The TRA says that it is able to offer advice to anyone who is faced with this issue, and assistance in the removal process, should this prove necessary.

A legitimate clothing collection bank should, according to the TRA, carry the name of the business servicing the bank (or well-known charity) with traceable contact details such a landline telephone number and a website that provides a postal address.

If these details aren’t present, this indicates that the operator does not want to be traced and the TRA advises against using the bank. It also recommends caution if the charity is not well-known. This may be checked by seeing whether the charity provides contact details other than those provided on the Charity Commission website.

Ian Woods, President of the Textile Recycling Association, added: “Regrettably, there are sham charities that are registered with the Charity Commission, that have been set up for illegal or improper purpose by some illegitimate clothing collectors, purely so that they can carry the charity branding on their banks. 

“From the evidence, we have seen very little, if any, money raised through the sale of clothing collected through these banks actually ends up being used for the charities’ stated philanthropic aims.”

The fake charity clothes-bank feature on Fake Britain, BBC1, can be watched by UK residents until 8 February on the BBC iPlayer

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