Oxfam in emergency plea after Yorkshire blaze wipes out stock

OXFAM has launched its first national emergency appeal for stock donations after a fire destroyed its sorting and recycling plant in West Yorkshire.

A huge blaze at the charity’s Wastesaver facility in Huddersfield, last month has left the organisation with an unprecedented stock crisis.

It is calling on the public to help by donating unwanted clothing and accessories to their local Oxfam shop or donation bank.

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The appeal is being backed by Jane Shepherdson, head of fashion retailer Whistles, and Red or Dead founder Wayne Hemingway.

Ms Shepherdson said: “Oxfam shops aren’t just a British institution, they’re a vital part of Oxfam’s work fighting poverty around the world.

“The damage caused by this fire is a huge blow, not only for Oxfam but for charity shoppers and fashion fans across the country.

“Every single item of clothing, accessories or shoes you can donate will help to make a huge difference.”

Mr Hemingway said: “Oxfam shops are built on the generosity of the British public, and each one is an important part of its local community.

“We need to rally round and show this same generosity and sense of community to help tackle this huge loss.

“I’ll be rooting through my drawers and cupboards to get some bags of donations together for Oxfam this week, and I’d encourage everyone to do the same.”

Oxfam said it is the only major charity to operate its own textile sorting facility. Wastesaver had been central to the charity’s shop network since 1967. It handled 800 tonnes of surplus clothing and textiles per month and managed 600 book banks and 700 clothing banks.

More than 50 firefighters fought the blaze at the plant on April 30.

It destroyed the entire processing facility, containing hundreds of thousands of pounds of specialised machinery and stock donated by the public. Two nearby storage facilities were undamaged.

Oxfam said the loss from the blaze wiped out the clothing stock held for Oxfam’s popular festivals shop, which is scheduled to be at seven of this year’s biggest festivals, including Glastonbury and Leeds.

The charity said the festivals shops raised £250,000 last year.

Oxfam’s trading director David McCullough said: “We’re incredibly sad to have lost Wastesaver, which has been a vital part of what we do for more than 40 years.

“But our staff have been absolutely amazing, showing incredible spirit and resilience to get our sorting operation back up and running in the toughest of times.

“We’ll be back up to full operations again very soon, but the situation is so severe and unprecedented that we’ve launched an emergency appeal for stock for the first time in our history. Now more than ever, we urgently need donations so we can keep raising money for our work around the world.”