A Nottingham charity sending clothes to survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire disaster says it is ‘inundated’ with donations and asked people to only offer suitable items.
The Sharewear Clothing Scheme, in Arnold, now has an enormous stock of clothes at its warehouse which it has collected to support Nottinghamshire families in financial difficulty for more than three years.
And it is working with staff from the Human Aid charity to determine the types of clothes survivors of the fire are in need of – before sending a lorry of clothes to London next week.
Louise Cooke, chief executive of the organisation, says the “instantaneous, emotional response” to the disaster for some families has been to bag up clothes for donation.
But she says many are not suitable for survivors – such as wintry clothes not appropriate for the hot weather and fancy dress-style outfits.
She called on people instead to donate new packets of underwear, nightwear, blankets and children’s clothing – which will help survivors immediately.
“A very typical thing to happen is that people will put party clothes and fancy dress-type clothes in their clothing donation, mixed in with suitable stuff,” said Ms Cooke.
“Their response is every person in the house fills a bag. Sometimes not the right amount of thought goes into the clothes being sent.
“Or a load of wintry clothes might be sent that are going to be needed in a few months’ time – but nothing people can wear now in this heat. It’s about thinking about the short-term need and long-term need.”
Although 69 people are now confirmed dead, or missing presumed dead, the full death toll from the blaze in North Kensington last Tuesday (June 13) is still not known – but the tragedy is already one of the biggest fire disasters in British history.
Ms Cooke says she speaks to Human Aid volunteers every day, or sometimes every other day, as they work to sort donations and match them to survivors.
She says donations have been ‘pouring in’ from communities all over the country.
But she adds there’ll probably be a ‘be a big mismatch with clothing and bedding’ and the gaps of clothes needed for the victims will be filled by the stock of the Sharewear Clothing Scheme.
Ms Cooke said: “As they’re [Human Aid] processing the clothes more and beginning to see the clearer picture, whatever the gap is – and it probably is going to be a big gap – we’ll fill it with our stock. We’re waiting for the go-ahead from them to send a lorry down.
“As the story unfolds and the survivors get houses and all the rest of it, we might have a key role to play.”
The organisation is made up of 35 volunteers and has recently bought a small Citroen van to transport supplies to London.
But Ms Cooke says with the vast amount of stock available in the warehouse, she hopes someone will come forward and volunteer to drive a bigger van to transport more boxes of resources.
She said: “We’ve got such a vast amount of clothing, I don’t want to send them a token amount of clothing for each size.
“I don’t want them to send one box of children’s clothes or medium women’s clothes. We can send them 10 boxes of medium women’s clothes that are already sorted and 10 boxes of baby clothes. To do that we’ll need a Luton [van].”
Ms Cooke says she got in contact with Human Aid after responding to a Facebook appeal by the Muslim Council of Britain to donate resources to London.
Resources can be donated to Sharewear’s warehouse, in Birchfield Road.
More information can be found on the organisation’s Facebook page.