The Cowshed is a new charity which provides support to people of all backgrounds in a time of personal crisis. The aim of The Cowshed is to provide good quality cleaned and ironed clothes and other essentials free to anyone in need. The clothes are donated from the general public as well as retailers and manufacturers; they are then sorted, washed and ironed at our premises ready to be delivered or collected by social services, other health professionals or our clients. The idea is that our clients feel they are receiving a gift to assist them in a time of crisis rather than some old clothes that are over worn, marked or damaged.

The Fast Fashion Problem & Cowshed

In a recent report The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee stated that there is a basic problem with an industry that relies on persuading people to throw away good clothes because they are “last year’s colour”.

It quotes evidence that:

  • British shoppers buy far more new clothes than any nation in Europe
  • People are buying twice as many items of clothing as they did a decade ago

They believe swift action is essential, because if current clothes consumption continues “…they will account for more than a quarter of our total impact on climate change by 2050”, Chairwoman Mary Creagh told BBC News. “Three in five garments end in landfill or incinerators within a year – that’s expensive fuel! Half a million tonnes of microfibres a year enter the ocean. Doing nothing is not an option.”

The Cowshed use all the clothes that are donated to us – the good quality items are washed and ironed ready for their clients and the slightly damaged clothes/bedding are repurposed and upcycled by their community arts and crafts group into items for us to sell, and tote bags for us to put their referrals in. Any remaining textiles are collected by a recycling organisation to raise further funds to help sustain the charity. They are averaging donations of between 3 and 4 tonnes a month, all of which has been recycled in some way, either for direct use for our referrals or in our other initiatives, saving a huge amount from landfill.

The clients the clothes go to are referred by a professional person and have included people involved in house fires who are left with only the clothes they stand up in, domestic abuse victims feeling their home, first baby packs for people leaving care – who very often don’t have any family support and refugees fleeing to safety.

They also have a little black dress shop, where donated party clothes are not necessarily needed by their clients, but you can buy them for between £5-£30 -often clothes with designer tags still on them and a prom room where you can hire all you need to go the prom for £50.

It really is heart-warming win/ win charity.

happy woman purchasing clothes
The Cowshed, Reading
Christmas Present Appeal
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