A woman from St Ann’s has shared how using a Nottingham charity clothing scheme has boosted her confidence after not being able to afford to buy clothes herself. Gisella Sobarasua has been using Daybrook based Sharewear for the past three years after struggling financially.
The 60 year old has encouraged others in the same position to use the charity scheme which provides clothing and bedding to people in economic difficulty. Gisella said: “I heard about Sharewear through a friend while doing community work in St Ann’s and that is how I got in contact with Sharewear. I needed it for myself. It has been very important for me and it has often been a question of sacrifice and want.
“There are times when you think I have to pay vital bills but you want to feel good about yourself. It has always been a choice, do I do this or do I do that. Some people think of it [clothing] as some kind of luxury, something that is not important. They think that as long as you have got something to wear, what do you care as long as it is clean etc.
Read more: Nottingham neighbourhood where nearly half of children live in poverty
“But it is not, I think that can bring someone down even more. I think that if you are having financial problems, if you have children or a family, you want to put food on the table, have gas and electric. Those are vital but I think a lot of people think clothing is a luxury and it is not.”
Gisella, who lives alone, uses the scheme once a month and added: “For me and a lot of men and women that come to the group, it is a boost. They go home and they have got a new top or something new to wear and it is new to you because you have never worn it. It makes you happy, you’re there picking clothes and we have a chit chat and it makes you feel good. I think the vibe is actually better than going clothes shopping and at the end paying.”
She said: “It makes me smile. When people say to me in the street, ‘oh that’s a lovely top’, I just say I am proud and very happy to say where I got them from. I always say to people if you want to come, come and join the group. It makes you feel good and it makes me feel even better that I have not paid for it or that added mental stress of not being able to afford something.
“On a personal level it is a positive experience but I do see people who come and are a bit embarrassed, weary, maybe some are ashamed, some want to keep it a secret and they do not want other people to know. There are all of those things going on but I think once you are there and you meet the people and get the vibe. They say get a plastic bag and take what you want.
“I would say to people unsure about coming, why are you wasting your money. You can use this opportunity and put your money to good use. They should look at it as an opportunity and be thankful that it is actually there. I used to buy my clothes from charity shops and they’re expensive.”
Sharewear opened in March 2014 to provide good quality second hand and new clothes to those in need free of charge. They are running a campaign to ensure everyone has a #RightToClothing.
CEO and founder of Sharewear Louise Cooke said: “There are so many myths to bust about what clothing poverty is, what it isn’t and who it affects. It does not just affect the street homeless, it doesn’t just affect the families in August when they are getting uniform for school, it doesn’t just affect families who need one off support like prom. It is rife in the general population.
“We have been around for eight years and we have supported 26,000 people in 2021 alone. In our Nottingham centre, people are referred into it in the same way as they would be referred into a food bank. They can browse and try on clothing at our centre in Daybrook and get whatever they need for themselves and their family.”
Sharewear have a processing centre in Nottingham where they sort stock to be delivered across the country. In Nottingham, they partner with Framework and the QMC and City Hospital to provide clothing to those who need it.
The charity rely on donations from the general public as well as receiving returned goods and end of line clothing from brands including Bamboo Clothing Limited and Seraphine Maternity.
Louise added: “I can’t emphasise the importance of our work enough. Just the sheer number of people that we are supporting and we have just supported nearly 4,000 people in May this year. We are unique in the UK, there are lots of clothing banks around most are not registered charities and non use the system we use of full browsing on rails or offer the big bulk outreach deliveries.
“The importance of our work nationally, not just Nottingham, is increasing year on year. That is why we have taken the decision to work with other people around the country to try and get this right to clothing movement off the ground. In the clothes donation economy there is no guarantee of where your clothes are going if you donate it to other organisations whereas if you donate clothing to us and it is of a good standard, it is guaranteed that within weeks someone in the UK will be wearing it for weeks free of charge.”
Sharewear, based at Southglde Business Park, have extended their opening hours for donations during clothing poverty awareness week and so people can donate through the clothing bank in their car park. They also have a page on their website for digital downloads people can access for the week as well as printable posters that ask challenging questions.