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22 December 2011

Designer clothes and food parcels for the needy this Christmas

Designer clothes and food parcels for the needy this Christmas

In the run up to Christmas things are even more busy than usual for Christian charity His Church, who distribute quality food and clothing to those who need it most.

Rather than destroying counterfeit designer clothes, customs, trading standards and other organisations are now handing them over to His Church to re-brand then distribute to the homeless and vulnerable. Supermarkets are following suit with items they can no longer sell.

The Bedfordshire-based charity was inspired to redistribute clothes and food that would otherwise be rendered useless six years ago.

It all started with an £8 Morrisons voucher donation, according to the church's charity co-ordinator Richard Humphrey, who explains that when they arrived to pick up the voucher Morrisons also gave them half a palette of Heinz soup tins. "God made us a promise to bring food and feed his people. We began small and with faith we have become bigger."

His Church is now subdivided into His Food, His Clothes and His Supplies. On the clothing Richard explains: "We de-brand and re-brand, we've evolved by providing solutions to people's problems."

Every year customs and trading standards spend a fortune on storing fake clothes while waiting for a court decision, and once the items have been proved to be fake the authorities have to pay incineration or landfill costs. The same is true for food items that can no longer be sold. As Richard explains: "Everything is perfect quality, nothing is past its sell-by date. There could have been a labelling issue - tins could have been wrongly labelled - or maybe the products were end-of-line or leftovers.

"We were given 20 pallets of margarine because a supermarket pulled its promotion and similar amounts of pasta because it was the wrong shape.

"The manufacturers have a problem because they can't sell or store them - so if we take the products and recycle them, it saves going to landfill."

So His Church are helping the organisations too when they pass on the high-quality goods to the 250 homeless centres and women's shelters across the country they now support.

The charity now works with 90 per cent of British Trading Standards authorities to hand over the fake designer clothes they seize - the police and Customs are now on board too. In fact the industrial sewing machines they now use to patch over pirated labels were recently given to them by UK Customs officials who had seized the machines from criminal gangs.

The organisation is now getting phone calls from as far away as America too. Tommy Hilfiger called from the States to ask for help, saying they believed His Church "were the world leaders in re-branding counterfeit clothes".

All this has been achieved with just 30 volunteers and very little media coverage - in fact His Church doesn't even have a website.

Richard says: "Christmas can often be a time when there's an expectation of people to have a good time, but there are so many people whose circumstances bring a lot of despair. It's fantastic to be able to give them clothes of great quality as it also gives them a lot of hope and dignity.

"With the best will in the world, charity clothes are second-hand - in this case they are brand new and in the right size. It would be a greater crime to throw the clothes away than it was to make them in the first place."

For more information contact His Church on 01933 623236 or email hisfood@hischurch.org.uk