The church at St John the Evangelist, Churchdown and Innsworth has been supporting prisoners at Leyhill open prison and helping reduce waste, by diverting new clothing from going to landfill.
The church is a registered member of In Kind Direct, an organisation set up by the Prince of Wales to recycle usable goods to charity. Where companies have stock in old packaging or have over-produced for a certain event or occasion, the charity takes the items and redistributes them to those in need, through locally registered organisations.
Chris Hill, lay chair of the PCC and former Royal Air Force Officer, said, “We were fortunate to obtain a large quantity of ‘new’ men’s clothing which we decided to give to three organisations. The largest quantity went to Leyhill Prison who were very grateful.”
Chris says the church is motivated to be part of this project by the generosity Jesus models in the Bible. “It’s part of our ministry – that’s what’s in the Bible, be generous.”
The church also uses its community links to identity people that need help.
A spokesman for the prison said, “We work with men at various stages of their lives. Some of them have been in prison for decades, some due to addiction or life circumstances for much shorter periods.
“The common denominator for the majority of our residents is that they have little or nothing in terms of possessions, belief in themselves or even a sense of self-pride.
“The power of being offered new clothing, especially the quality of items you have donated, is massive.
There is an instant hit of pride and ownership and that is followed by the delight of having something new and smart. Remember that many of our men have worn the same clothing for years because they have no money or family on the outside to support them.
“I asked a number of the men that were fortunate enough to benefit from your donated clothing and I received lots of different responses, all positive and all voicing their deep gratitude to you and the organisations helping. I was able to see the expressions on their faces when receiving the items – it was like a number of birthdays and Christmases rolled into one.
“The clothing is something they can use in the prison and outside when released – something smart and presentable that will make them feel anything but a “con” when wearing it. Thank you again for your kind donations.”
Similar comments were made by Gloucester City Mission who were also in awe at the donation of a large box of socks, shorts, trousers, t-shirts and tops.
A smaller donation was made to the Salvation Army as they felt it was more difficult to give out new clothing without it being sold.
The church has received over £37,000 of goods that we have given to charities like GARAS, Women’s Refuge, the Foodbank and Round Table etc (the total cash costs being just over £4,000), before the latest £6,500-worth of clothing that cost them nothing.