Hundreds of missing clothes banks have gone missing across the UK leading to the loss of thousands of pounds for charities, industry groups have said.
Ian Woods, president of the Textile Recycling Association, said that up to 750 bins had been removed from areas such as supermarket car parks over the past 18 months, which is estimated to have cost the charities £370,000.
Clothing recycling bins are often placed in the car parks of supermarkets for customers to donate unwanted clothes and textiles but have to be placed there with their permission.
The TRA and CrimeDeter a security firm which acts for its members, said that some of the bins had been rebranded with the logo of Wolverhampton-based Helping Our Future, which is currently under investigation by the Charity Commission, and placed in car parks without the supermarkets’ permission.
The families, they’re relying on that charity to carry out a service for their child. It is a lifesaving service.
Director James Cook, of Recycling Solutions North West, said the charity was particularly important to him because of his son Dexter, who had an undiagnosed heart condition and died when he was only 13 months old.
He told the BBC: “I just can’t understand why any individual would go out and take the clothing banks.
“The families, they’re relying on that charity to carry out a service for their child. It is a lifesaving service.
“I do like to see the target go up every month, I like to see the money climb and I’m going to see it drop next month and that will hurt.”
Helping Our Future is a registered charity which focuses on recycling and waste generation.
A company which says it acts for Helping Our Future told the BBC: “We are an associated contractor to HOF Trading Limited which is the logistical partner to Helping our Future Charity.
“We are contracted to abide by a written protocol which prevents us from carrying out any criminal activity and bringing any holistic partner into disrepute.”
It also alleged that some of its own banks had been taken and that this had been reported to the police.
Business Matters has attempted to contact the charity for further comment.
A Charity Commission spokesman said: “The Commission is examining the charity Helping Our Future as part of a regulatory compliance case.
“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.”