Check before you donate to charity shops

July 14 2020

A LOCAL councillor is pleading for residents to adhere to charity shop opening hours when making donations.

People who leave donations outside closed shops in Kingswood are in effect fly-tipping

This follows a recent spate of fly-tipping incidents in Kingswood High Street, where charity shops have been shut during the lockdown.

Many have not yet reopened, and there are fears of an influx of donations once they do, because people have been clearing out while they have had more time at home. 

Councillor Andrea Reid told the Voice that although people leaving bags of clothes on shop doorsteps have good intentions, they might not understand the impact of their actions.

Managers from several charity shops contacted Andrea about the problem in the hope of  agreeing a plan of action for raising awareness.

Andrea said: “People are trying to do what they can, and think that the charity shops won’t mind if the bags are left outside. However, I’ve had a couple of charity shops complain to me, and the issues they have experienced vary from shop to shop depending on their access and storage situation. 

“Some haven’t been able to get into the store to open up in the morning, some volunteers have been injured accessing stores, people have been seen going through bags that have been left outside, and people and animals have also been urinating on them. 

“I was also told of an incident where a lady with a baby would have been unable to get out of her flat if there had been a fire, due to donations being piled against her door.

“In addition, if it is raining the items get wet, and how will the shops be able to sell these o?

In these cases, the charities have to use commercial waste bins and pay for extra collections to be made, which costs them money.  The Salvation Army suffers particularly badly as a result of this, and has to pay an extra £75 to have extra collections as people have been donating so much. St Peter’s Hospice also told me that bags of wet clothes can store up flammable gases, which is something that could also be potentially dangerous. 

“I don’t think people completely realise that by leaving items outside they are not helping the charity in any way and that it is also costing the council money to clear them. I’m sure it is done in all innocence, but people just are not aware. Although the charities are grateful for people’s support, what people are actually doing is fly tipping, not donating at all. I would hate to hear of a resident who thinks they  have donated in all innocence, but then receives a fine, and think it is important that people are made aware of this.” 

Andrea wants to make people aware of the alternative methods of donating if they are unable to visit the charity shops during their opening hours. They could use clothes banks or could also ask a friend or family member to deliver items for them.

If residents see incidents of fly tipping, they are asked to report it by visiting: https://www.southglos.gov.uk/environment-and-planning/street-care-and-cleaning/fly-tipping/, calling: 01454 8683000 or emailing: streetcare@southglos.gov.uk

You can also download an app called lovecleanstreets, which allows you to take and upload a photo and uses the location to send a report to the council.