Disappearance of 750 clothing banks raises regulator's concerns about charity

The Charity Commission says it has serious concerns about the management and governance of Helping Our Future

Clothes banks: disappearing from all over the UK
Clothes banks: disappearing from all over the UK

The Charity Commission has said it has "serious concerns" about the management of a charity it is investigating after being alerted to the disappearance of hundreds of clothing collection banks across the UK.

About 750 clothing banks have disappeared in England, Wales and Northern Ireland over the past 18 months, according to the Textile Recycling Association, which is the trade association for used clothes collectors and sorters.

Some are placed at other sites and rebranded with other charity logos, the TRA said.

A commission spokeswoman said it had been examining the charity Helping Our Future as part of a regulatory compliance case since a third party raised concerns in 2016.

"We have serious concerns about its management and activities, and are examining trustees’ oversight of the charity, its relationship with third parties, including commercial fundraising companies, and whether the charity’s management and operations have given rise to inappropriate benefit on the part of private individuals or companies," she said.

"While our engagement is under way, we cannot comment in detail about our findings to date or the likely outcome of the case."

Alan Wheler, director of the TRA, told Third Sector it had raised the concerns with the regulator and welcomed its investigations.

"I would like the commission to use all the power it has to stop this happening," said Wheeler.

There are about 15,000 UK clothing banks. Many are situated in supermarket car parks and at recycling depots.

Charities, such as the Salvation Army, operate some. Others are controlled by private companies in return for donations to charities.

Wheeler said it cost organisations up to £1,500 to replace banks.

Helping Our Future, which according to the register of charities is based in Wolverhampton and protects and preserves the environment, did not respond to questions by Third Sector.

However, in an investigation into disappearing clothing banks by BBC 5 Live, which was broadcast yesterday, the charity denied any wrongdoing.

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