A VISIT TO THE FABULOUS COWSHED CHARITY...
Posted on November 02 2021
We recently delivered some of our spare stock to this incredible charity. Our visit left us feeling inspired and completely in awe of what they achieve.
The Cowshed Charity was launched in February 2019 by Sally Russell and her husband to give practical support to people of all backgrounds in a time of personal crisis. The charity is staffed by 7 staff (4 full-time equivalent) and 150 volunteers. Their aim is “to lovingly provide excellent quality cleaned and ironed clothes, bedding, curtains, and other essential items free to anyone in need”, which they do in a totally inclusive and non-judgemental way.
Covering the whole of Berkshire, referrals come from social services, churches, schools, charities, women’s refuges, doctors, and other health professionals. At present, The Cowshed is helping around 100 families each week.
The clothes are donated from the public as well as retailers and manufacturers; they are then sorted, washed and carefully packaged for delivery in beautiful large cotton tote bags which are sewn by volunteers from re-worked donated fabric (which avoids plastic waste). The idea is that clients feel they are receiving a gift to assist them in a time of crisis, rather than some old clothes that are over worn, marked or damaged.
As additional needs have been identified, The Cowshed has stepped up to fill the gap. As well as adult and children’s clothing, toys, baby equipment, baby food and toiletries, they also provide a ‘prom dress’ service. Young people who might not have the funds to buy or rent prom outfits can come into a beautiful ‘prom dressing room’, try on, select and borrow the dress of their choice, alongside shoes and makeup. And in order not to stigmatise young people who are unable to pay, the dresses are available to all as a rental service. And demand has been huge!
Recognising that many women in crisis situations might never have worn (or might have arrived in this country without) properly fitting bras, The Cowshed runs a professional bra fitting service, with new bras donated from a lingerie company.
They also run a second hand school uniform service, and last Christmas they delivered over 1,200 present ‘sacks’ to families in need. Honestly the list goes on….and the value of the goods they have provided to their clients in the last year is over £1,000,000.
The Cowshed therefore has a threefold impact: recycling used clothing, helping those most in need, whilst creating a community craft group to support the main charity. Any clothes and bedding that can’t be passed on are re-worked into other items (we’ve never seen such an organised linen cupboard of washed sheets and pillowcases waiting to be re-used!).
In their own words “We are extremely excited about having established a movement which directly impacts those most in need in the local community in a positive, loving, non-judgmental way, as well as helping the environment by reusing clothes and other items which would otherwise have ended up in landfill sites.”
The breadth of what this charity provides and achieves is, in our opinion, quite incredible. However, they constantly struggle to raise core funding (funding which they can use to cover their core day to day costs) rather than funding tied to a specific project.
So if you feel inspired, why not head to their JustGiving page and contribute to a better life for people who might be having a tough time right now https://www.justgiving.com/thecowshed or check out their online shop where they sell gifts made by their amazing craft group https://www.thecowshed.org/shop/