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Rags to riches rip-off leaves charity feeling the pinch
The soaring value of cotton and rags has led to a spate of thefts across Bristol which have seen bags of clothing left out for charity collection targeted by mean thieves.
St Peter’s Hospice Commercial Director, Andrew Hufford said the spiraling value of cotton made bags of clothes and waste rags left out for collection by well-intentioned Bristolians attractive to thieves.
He said: “With waste rags fetching 50p a kilo and cotton trading at 80p per kilo the thieves are really making a killing swallowing up the donations we rely on to run the hospice for Bristol.”
St Peter’s Hospice is the city’s largest charity retailer with 47 shops within 12 miles of the city centre. The hospice at Brentry is Bristol’s only adult hospice and cares for local people with incurable illnesses.
Andrew Hufford said: “The surge in prices makes the donations of old clothes more important than ever for us. We are urging people to either take their unwanted clothing direct to our shops or to contact us to set up a special collection bin where they work. Alternatively, people can arrange a collection from their home.
“Just because old clothes and rags are by definition unwanted, it doesn’t mean to say they don’t have enormous value to charities like us. We are looking at any way we can to beat the thieves and protect a vital source of our income.”
Devastating floods in Pakistan - one of the world's largest producers - and fears over this year's crop in China have sent cotton prices surging more than 50 per cent in recent weeks, helping turn cotton trash to hard cash.
As a result plastic bags full of donations have been disappearing from doorsteps across Bristol before the collectors they are intended for can pick them up.
Police found more than 11 tonnes of waste clothing on a raid in Warmley earlier this year and have been investigating the disappearance of charity donations left out in Bedminster that have been taken by impostors claiming to work for charities.
Andrew said: “It all adds up to a very serious drain on our shops’ income and therefore restricts the vital work we can carry out for and on behalf of the people of Bristol. Selfish thieves and bogus collectors are taking money out of the charity’s pockets just as if they had stolen a collecting jar full of money from a shop or pub.”
St Peter’s Hospice sorts clothing donations, selling those that can be worn again in its shops and recycling the rest as waste rag or cotton. With cotton prices at a 15-year high the charity is welcoming all donations of old clothing and rags to take full advantage of the booming market.
Andrew said: “All of our care is provided free of charge to the public but costs over £6million to administer with the NHS contributing just 23% of our annual running costs. Otherwise we are totally reliant on the generosity of the public which is why these thefts are so damaging to the levels of care we can provide. All donations go to benefit local people.”
Andrew concluded: “People in Bristol can beat the thieves by going straight to one of our shops throughout the city or by giving us a ring to arrange to have a portable collection bin delivered to their place of work. Alternatively we have a collection service, just visit our website for more details on www.stpetershospice.org or call 0800 583 0015.
“Our message is don’t let the thieves cash in on your charity donations.”