USED clothing donated to the Great North Air Ambulance Service resulted in a £378,200 donation over the past year.
The charity’s recycling arm has defied the persistence of thieves to increase its annual donation by 40 per cent, from £267,353 in 2016/17.
The majority of the revenue raised was through the sales of donated clothing, but recycling of office supplies including printer cartridges and mobile phones also contributed to the total.
Although kerbside thefts of donated clothing are estimated to be costing the charity thousands of pounds every week, bosses at GNAAS have moved to combat the threat by introducing an ad hoc doorstep collection service and, through the support of volunteers, supported more community collections at locations such as business premises and village halls.
The measures appear to be working, with a total of 1,032 tonnes of clothing sold in the financial year 2017/18, roughly the equivalent weight of four Pride of Cumbria aircraft.
John Ballan, who manages the charity’s trading company, said: “We are still getting huge support from our routine door to door collections in the areas we still visit. We need to sustain that, but we are also seeing real growth in community-organised collections as people want to help us out.
“The vast majority of donated clothing is received by us, but we are still seeing widespread theft of bags every week. That’s why some people are taking up our offer for us to collect it from their hand at pre-arranged times. And when whole communities are rallying together in this way, it makes it all the better.”
Grahame Pickering MBE, chief executive of GNAAS, said the recycling effort was helping to safeguard the future of the service.
He said: “This is a perfect example of how a seemingly small contribution such as a bag of unwanted clothing or a handful of empty printer cartridges can add up to make a real difference.
“This money will be spent on providing life-saving care in the region and the thousands of people who filled their bags should be proud of what they have achieved.”
If you would like to arrange a community collection, if you have questions about the ad-hoc service, or for any other recycling enquiries, please email email@example.com or call 01325-308139.