Cow­shed ex­pands in­toWin­nersh de­pot

The Wokingham Paper - - NEWS - By JESSWARREN jwar­ren@wok­ing­ham­pa­per.co.uk

TWO YEARS after its es­tab­lish­ment, a Hurst char­ity is ex­pand­ing its premises.

The Cow­shed, which pro­vides good qual­ity, clean, ironed clothes and other es­sen­tials free to those in need, has seen a surge in de­mand.

ByWed­nes­day, July 1 — 100 days into lock­down — the char­ity had sup­ported 1,073 adults and chil­dren dur­ing the pan­demic.

This in­cluded craft packs, clothes, toi­letries, un­der­wear, bed­ding, cur­tains, food ham­pers from Hill­song Church and other es­sen­tial items.

Al­though the char­ity has only been fully op­er­a­tional since midFe­bru­ary last year, vol­un­teers said they are grow­ing fast, re­ceiv­ing in­creas­ing num­bers of re­fer­rals each week.

Th­ese come from health vis­i­tors, so­cial ser­vices, food­banks, schools, refuges, churches, GP surg­eries and a num­ber of other lo­cal char­i­ties.

After their re­fer­ral, clients are then in­vited to The Cow­shed to se­lect and try on the clothes.

Now, they are ex­pand­ing with a sec­ond lo­ca­tion, which will be used as a dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tre for do­na­tions.

Gen­eral man­ager, Sally Rus­sell said: “We’ve been open right the way through the pan­demic — we didn’t want to close when peo­ple were in cri­sis.

“The de­mand for­what we do has gone up three­fold, and we had a re­duced num­ber of vol­un­teers as peo­ple were shield­ing, el­derly or look­ing after young chil­dren.

“We’re still as busy, but now we’ve got more vol­un­teers back, which means we can ex­pand into our new fa­cil­ity and keep main­tain­ing so­cial dis­tanc­ing.”

The de­pot is on King Street Lane, Win­nersh op­po­site Sains­bury’s and is now ac­cept­ing do­na­tions from Mon­day to Fri­day, 10am un­til 4pm. And vol­un­teers got the dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tre ready to use quickly.

“We got the keys on Tues­day last week, and spent the week­end get­ting it ready,” added Mrs Rus­sell. “We’ve got a rolling li­cence, and will stay here un­til a com­pany wants the space.

“We’re just re­ally grate­ful that we’re able to help those who need us. And we couldn’t have done it with­out all the or­gan­i­sa­tions sup­port­ing us.

“Wok­ing­ham Cit­i­zens Ad­vice, Wellington School and Hill­song Church have all helped us greatly, and we’ve had lots of grants.”

The char­ity also hopes to restart a so­cially dis­tanced craft group on Mon­days, Wed­nes­days and Fri­days from 10am un­til 3pm.

This group was cre­ated to close the loop on fast fash­ion waste.

“Up­stairs is our new craft cen­tre, where we have 60 craft­ing vol­un­teers re­cy­cling the fab­rics to make re­fer­ral bags,” said Mrs Rus­sell. “We don’t put any­thing into land­fill at all.”

Any slightly dam­aged clothes or bed­ding is re­pur­posed by the com­mu­nity arts and crafts group into items to sell, and tote bags. Re­main­ing fab­ric is col­lected by a re­cy­cling com­pany.

Pic­tures: The Cow­shed

Sally Rus­sell (cir­cle) and her team of vol­un­teers are ac­cept­ing do­na­tions from their King Street Lane cen­tre.

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