Broken 'fly-tipped' donations cause safety issues for Maidenhead charity shop

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

A charity has urged donors not to leave donations outside its stores after a series of problems have put strain on the organisation’s volunteers.

Age Concern Slough and Berkshire East (SABE) has a charity shop in Shifford Crescent that recently had to deal with broken glass and china from donations left outside.

This took up a lot of volunteer’s time and put the health and safety of volunteers at risk.

“What’s left outside the shop doesn’t legally belong to us, it’s deemed as fly-tipping,” said Mandy Ogden of Age Concern SABE.

Donations placed outside are vulnerable to being searched through, leading to items being strewn everywhere and broken.

The donations can also be soiled by wild or domestic animals, a further health and safety concern.

There are rules that prevent such items from being resold, as there are no laundry or other cleaning facilities on site, only a small sink in the kitchen area.

“Volunteers are our backbone. We can’t put them at risk,” said Mandy.

Though it is possible for charity shops to pass on unsaleable soft donations to a rag merchant, this makes very little money and much of the donations has to be simply thrown away.

Storage space for this is also very limited.

“It’s cost us £30,000 just having our bins emptied, which is a lot for a small charity,” said Mandy.

“It’s just such a waste. If someone called us to let us know that they can’t get to the charity shop on time, we could arrange something.

“We are being particular because donations need to be things people will want to buy, and we need to make money – apart from donations and grants, it is our only fundraising.

“Charity shops have changed and we try to make it a really nice shopping experience.”

Anyone with items such as bedding that are not high enough quality for resale can potentially donate these to charities which hand out second-hand goods for free to those in need, such as those that help the homeless.

Supermarkets may also have clothing banks which do not have such high standards, or textile recycling bins for stained or torn clothes.

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