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The ‘Swish Swap Shop’ event was organised by Lisa Weaver, Departmental Administrative Coordinator in the University’s Estates and Facilities Department, as well as the Department’s green impact team, which included Lisa’s colleagues, Emma Westhead-Thomas, Magda Grabarek, Brendan Molloy and Belinda Lewsley.

On the day, and before the event, University staff, students and members of the public were encouraged to bring in good quality, no longer wanted items such as adults’ and children’s clothes, toys, books, toiletries and accessories, in exchange for similar items. Those who did not have items to swap, could just come along and buy any item for £1 each. The financial donations and any remaining items were then given to three charities. These were the Share Shop in Chester (raising money for Share Aid); Claire House Children’s Hospice and Chester Women’s Aid.

Lisa said: “Our ‘Swish Swap Shop event had several aims: to encourage recycling and item swaps/ exchanges; to raise money; and to generate any donations and proceeds to charity.

“The event attracted 92 visitors across the day, who were a mixture of staff, students and members of the public, some of whom had heard about it from community-led projects that were aimed at hard to reach groups who were less fortunate, so we were pleased that they were able to benefit. Many people swapped items and a number just purchased - raising a fantastic £130 for our three charities. There was also an abundance of items left over – we had around 40 bin bags of items to donate to the charities involved!”

The ‘Swish Swap Shop’ also hosted a pop-up ‘Patch Challenge’ project– a small team of student and staff volunteers from across the University, who were on hand to help people repair their clothes through skill sharing. Helen Blank, one of the staff volunteers, said “The Patch Challenge team were really pleased to be part of the event. The more we can encourage people to repair, reuse and recycle their clothes, the less textile waste that goes into landfill. We enjoyed helping visitors repair eight garments which would otherwise have been unwearable or thrown in the bin.”

Hayley Muscat from Claire House Children’s Hospice, who attended the University to collect the donations, said: “The ‘Swish Swap Shop’ was such an inventive way to get people involved and we were so pleased to be one of the chosen charities. The amount raised and the items donated will help Claire House to continue providing care to the children and families we support. From everyone at the Hospice, we want to say a big thank you to all the staff, students and members of the public who visited and donated on the day.”

Debra Webb, Chairperson at Share Aid, added: “We are so grateful for all the support that the University offers us at Share. We could not do all the important work that we do, supporting the most vulnerable members of our community, without the help of people like you and we are incredibly grateful. The event was clearly an amazing success and a timely reminder that we should all be aiming to reduce landfill. This is something that Share feels passionate about and works hard towards within our own organisation.”

Fiona Neame, Chair of Chester Women’s Aid added: “Our thanks go to the organisers of the Swish Swap Shop. Just to highlight how important it is for us to keep fundraising – in just 24 hours recently, we had five requests for emergency grants from families fleeing domestic abuse.”

Comments from Women’s Aid grant recipients include:

  • “It will help me to make a fresh start and live safely with my children. Thank you!”
  • “This grant means a lot. I am very grateful for the help. It has contributed a lot towards things for our fresh start in our new safe home for both me and my daughter. Thank you!”

Lisa added: “Overall our ‘Swish Swap Shop’ was a huge success and the team would like to thank everybody who contributed in some way. We collected donations for the two months leading up to the event, and the extremely good quality items went down brilliantly at the Swap Shop. It would not have been such a success without the interest and generosity we received from our students and staff, in particular, which was overwhelming and quite unbelievable!”

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