Charities overlooked Mary Portas' Donate, Don't Dump scheme to pursue their own plans

Cancer Research UK, Barnardo's and Scope among those deciding not to heed her appeal in Mary Queen of Charity Shops

Mary Portas
Mary Portas

A number of large charities representing more than 1,300 charity shops in the UK did not take part in the Donate, Don't Dump scheme launched by TV personality Mary Portas because it duplicated work they were already doing.

Portas launched the scheme after her Mary Queen of Charity Shops TV series was shown in June last year. Backed by the Association of Charity Shops, it encouraged charity shops to ask businesses to invite their staff to bring a small number of high-quality items of clothing to their workplaces for donation to charity shops.

Cancer Research UK, Barnardo's, Scope and the PDSA, which run 1,360 shops between them, all said they did not ask their shops to approach businesses and ask them to get involved in this way. There are 7,500 charity shops in the UK, according to figures from the ACS.

A spokeswoman for CRUK said the charity already had 'donation stations', containers in workplaces for staff to put unwanted clothing in. "There was a conscious decision not to take the campaign on board," she said. "It was better to put resources into our ongoing work than to ask people to bring items in on one day."

A spokeswoman for Barnardo's said the charity had a scheme called Bag it Up for Barnardo's, which targeted corporate supporters. "We've had that for a couple of years, so we just carried on with what we were doing," she said.

A spokesman for Scope said the charity had been collecting items from local businesses before Portas's scheme was launched. "Donate, Don't Dump aimed for a small volume of high-value items, but we were looking for more stock," he said.

Howard Bowles, a business manager in the retail division of Sue Ryder Care, said the charity had encouraged staff at its shops to approach local businesses about the Portas campaign. But he said there had been only a "slight uplift" in the volume of donated stock.

Firms including British Gas and publisher Emap asked staff to donate clothes to Save the Children as part of the campaign. The charity's shop in Orpington, Kent, was the focus of Portas's TV series.

A spokesman for Portas said the campaign gathered "enormous momentum" from the TV series. He said he did not have figures for how many charities chose to run the campaign, but an "extraordinary number" of businesses had been involved.



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