Clear out your Closet - Combating Clothing Poverty in the UK

In the UK, thousands of people have very little or nothing to wear; yet, clothing poverty goes undocumented and unreported. All the while, devastating impact is felt by children and adults, alike.

In many cases, students are avoiding school for fear of being bullied over their worn-out clothes. Those who do attend, could be seen with holes in their clothes and shoes that are held together with tape. The repeated absenteeism and feelings of shame have a crippling effect on children’s capacity to learn and grow. The detrimental impact of clothing poverty on self-esteem is felt equally by adults who find themselves unable to access training or suitable employment opportunities. Beyond the detrimental mental health implications that clothing poverty has, it also affects physical wellbeing, whereby many families who are unable to afford adequate winter clothing face a higher risk of falling ill.

The solution, however, could be simple. In the UK, 300,000 tonnes of clothes go into landfills each year; that is equivalent to £140Mn worth of clothes. If these clothes were redirected for good use, clothing poverty could be alleviated at very little or almost no cost.

At CHR, we wanted to do our part in combatting clothing poverty. To that end, we launched a ‘Clear out your Closet’ campaign to encourage our teams in London and Cambridge to declutter their wardrobes over the period of a month and donate to those who are most in need. Our 30 days of decluttering initiative began on the 9th of June 2020 to coincide with Sharewear’s Clothing Poverty Awareness Week. Sharewear is a charity dedicated to alleviating clothing poverty and provides clothing support to thousands of men, women and children in Nottingham and beyond. Through our clothing donation drive we filled a couple of vans and sent them on their way to Sharewear, where we trust our donations will make a difference to those who have nothing to wear.