Pioneering clothing project expands

 A ground-breaking children’s clothing project is set for major expansion in 2012.

Kit Out The Kids keeps 90 tonnes of textiles out of landfill every year and offers a vital service to families on low income.

It is one of 10 schemes run by Cooptions, a Prestatyn social enterprise company, which provides valuable employment opportunities to people with learning disabilities.

The scheme, which collects and sells good quality, second hand children’s clothing and toys at rock bottom prices, will be opening a new clothing shop for adults next door to the one they already have in Rhyl.

In a second big development, the project will team up with Denbighshire County Council to offer an improved donation collection service where specially labelled bags will be delivered with assistance from the authority’s refuse collectors to 30,000 homes across the county.

A collection service will then be operated fortnightly by Kit Out The Kids to coincide with the county’s blue bin recycling days.

The aim is to make it easier for people to remember when the collection will be made and to feel reassured their donated clothes will go to good use locally.

Andy Lowe, managing director of Cooptions, was encouraged to develop the clothing scheme following advice from WINSENT (Wales Ireland Network for Social Entrepreneurship).

The aim of the £1.3 million project is to support social entrepreneurs who use their business skills to reduce poverty and social inequality and breathe new life into communities across Anglesey and Denbighshire.

The project is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Ireland Wales Programme (INTERREG 4A).

Andy said: “WINSENT organised for me to go to Ireland on a study trip so I could see for myself how similar projects, including a textile reuse business, were working. Some of them were quite a bit further on than us and the trip gave me ideas, inspiration and confidence to take our project

Sue Haygarth, of Consultancy Coop based in Wales, is assisting Denbighshire County Council in delivering WINSENT for social enterprises in the county.

She said: “Kit Out The Kids is already providing a fantastic service to the people of Denbighshire and it made sense to look at ways to develop the project further.

“We have given Andy the chance to see for himself how he might use some tried and trusted ideas to develop the scheme and it is terrific to see how those thoughts he had are now coming to fruition.”

Jim Espley of Denbighshire County Council’s Environmental Services said: “We are delighted to have formalised a partnership with Cooptions to offer a clothes recycling service. The collections of unwanted clothes will be carried out by Cooptions staff and will be picked up on the same day as your blue wheelie bin.

“We are expecting the collection bags to be ready at the end of January and we will be distributing to households then.

“We have been very impressed by the service offered by Cooptions, as we see that local people are benefitting from a local service. As such, we are extremely pleased to be involved in this partnership.”

Absolutely everything which Kit Out The Kids receives is reused. All of the best quality and suitable clothing and toy donations are washed, dried and prepared for sale in the shop. The rest is recycled in some way such as rags for cleaning.

Hazel Lemmard, mum to three-year-old Liam, is a regular customer at the existing shop, which opened in 2005.

The 32-year-old from, Rhyl, said: “When you are on benefits and haven’t got a huge income, it can be really tough. Children’s clothing can be expensive and they are only in it five minutes because they are growing all the time.

“For me it takes the stress out of worrying how I am going to keep paying for all the clothes which Liam needs.

“I know I can come here and get some lovely things for him at an unbeatable price. I really don’t know what I would do without it.

“I think it is great they are opening a new adult shop. Perhaps I can treat myself a little bit now!”

Andy said: “The new adult shop will create a new income stream for us and could potentially double our takings. It also means we are providing more work for people and keeping more out of landfill so it is a very exciting development.”

When Kit Out The Kids was first set up in 2000, the project employed three members of staff and work opportunities for five people with learning disabilities. It now has six members of staff and 23 supported workers.

Catherine Hanley, 30, from Prestatyn, has worked for the project since it started. She said: “This is my favourite job. I really like all the people who work here and it is fun working in the shop too.

“My job there is to make sure everything looks neat and tidy and is presented well to the customers. “At the sorting centre I do a lot of tagging and making sure everything is ready for the shop. I enjoy all of it.”

To find out more about WINSENT go to or email Sue Haygarth at
To find out more about Cooptions and all its projects, go to or call 01745 851454.

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