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Virgin Trains works with prisoners to transform old uniforms into clothes for homeless

20th Feb 18 9:34 am

Virgin Trains launches zero waste to landfill initiative for its old uniforms

Virgin Trains has handed over its old uniforms to a prison to be recycled by its talented textiles team. The initiative will see prisoners transform the old uniforms into warm new items such as blankets, bags and coats to help those living on the streets.

Approximately 30 million tonnes of corporate wear are sent to landfill each year in the UK. In an effort to provide a creative solution to this, Virgin Trains’ old uniforms are being transformed into new items by prisoners in its onsite textiles factory. The innovative partnership is part of a rehabilitation scheme that helps to prepare prisoners for life outside, in an effort to reduce reoffending rates.

The initiative developed by Virgin Trains and HMP Northumberland (supported by Hubbub), will donate the upcycled garments to local homeless charity, The Albert Kennedy Trust which supports young LGBT homeless people in crisis, HMP Askham Grange and Virgin Trains’ charity partner, Rethink Mental Illness.

This recycling scheme follows the 2017 launch of Virgin Trains’ new body-neutral uniform range designed by sustainable fashion designers Gerardine and Wayne Hemingway for every gender, size and shape across both the East and West Coast.

Virgin Trains on the West Coast has previously established an ex-prisoners programme in 2011 focusing on employment. The initiative was the brainchild of Richard Branson who believes strongly that ex-prisoners should not be ignored by potential employers because of their criminal record.

On receiving the old uniforms, Steven Goodacre, Head of Business Development at HMP Northumberland, said; 

“We’re delighted to be partnering with Virgin Trains on its uniform upcycling initiative. Not only is it great to be giving back to local and national homeless charities, but it’s also a fantastic opportunity for our offenders within the establishment to learn new skills which will help them once they have been released, while also decreasing the likelihood of reoffending.” 

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