Virgin Trains Collaborate with a Prison to Recycle Old Uniforms

Inmates at HMP Northumberland are set to take part in an initiative to turn old Virgin Trains uniforms into new textiles. The aim of the project is to reduce offending rates by preparing prisoners for life after prison, and to support a local homeless charity by donating the upcycled clothing.

The social enterprise charity, Hubbub, is supporting the project which will create blankets, bags, and coats for the Albert Kennedy Trust, which helps young LGBT people who are homeless.

virgin trains

Offenders learning new skills

The prison’s head of business development said that they are delighted to be partnering with Virgin Trains on the project, both to give back to charity and to help offenders learn new skills which may reduce the risk of reoffending when they are released.

Virgin environmental responsibility

Around 30 million tonnes of corporate uniforms end up in landfill every year in the UK. Last year, Virgin launched a new line of uniforms, created by the sustainable fashion designers Geraldine and Wayne Hemingway.  

Virgin’s responsible business manager said that Virgin is passionate about sustainability, so they’re happy that working with the prison will mean their old uniforms are put to good use, they’re sending less waste to landfill, and they’re helping vulnerable people in the process.

Too many textiles go to landfill

More than 350,000 tonnes of textiles end up in landfill every year in the UK. The charity Hubbub wants to tackle this, with projects like the Virgin/prison collaboration, and a nationwide baby clothing redistribution trial with Mothercare.

albert kennedy trust

The Mothercare scheme

More than 20,000 items of clothing were given to 2,000 families last year as part of a pilot scheme run by Hubbub and Mothercare. The scheme encourages parents to donate any baby clothes they don’t need to one of the 42 Mothercare stores that are taking part.

Now the scheme is expanding, and Hubbub wants to donate 65,000 items to 6,500 families as part of a campaign called ‘Gift a Bundle.’

Gift a Bundle encourages households to put together bundles of unwanted baby clothing and give them to participating Mothercare stores. Hubbub are hoping to eventually link this event to Mother’s Day going forward, as the bundles are given to mothers on Mother’s Day.

Hubbub carried out research which found that there are around 183 million items of unwanted baby clothing in UK homes, and if every item was passed on, every baby born in the UK would get 250 items.

The original pilot scheme ran in south east London in 2016, then it was expanded to 13 Mothercare stores a year later. In the run up to Mother’s Day last year, parents were encouraged to donate 6 to 12 items of unwanted baby clothing to participating Mothercare stores across the UK.