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Local initiative raises more than £18,000 for refugee charities

Salvaged Project, run from the Hillsborough attic of Lauren Sweeney, sells second-hand clothes online and has supported over 50 causes since 2017.

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Priscilla Du Preez (Unsplash)

A Sheffield resident has raised £18,315 for multiple charities by selling pre-loved clothing on Instagram and Depop.

Lauren Sweeney, 31, who lives on Shepperson Road, started fundraising through her online shop Salvaged Project in 2017.

Sweeney launched Salvaged Project to raise awareness of the environmental dangers of textile waste and to help support refugees.

A 2020 YouGov profile found that a quarter of the British public say they “would never” buy second-hand clothes, despite an estimated 350,000 tonnes of used clothing being sent to landfill every year in the UK.

When clothes decompose, they release air pollutants methane and carbon dioxide. This, combined with the fact the fashion industry is responsible for roughly 10% of global carbon emissions, means consumer buying habits have a significant effect on climate change.

Consumer choice also impacts people, with current estimates suggesting 143 million people will be displaced by climate change by 2050.

Lauren sweeney salvaged project founder

Lauren Sweeney, founder of Salvaged Project.

“I used to get really angry about people not buying second-hand,” Sweeney said.

“Now it’s about taking the opposite approach and saying, ‘Look at this amazing thing you can do, and you won’t just be helping the environment – you can help people too.’”

All of the money raised from the Salvaged Project’s sales is donated to its monthly charity or used to supply items the charity needs. Sweeney sources clothes from charity shop bargain bins and mends them herself when necessary.

The initiative has helped over 50 international refugee charities since it was launched.

“Whether they are trying to flee war, persecution or natural disaster, it’s people that desperately need help,” she added.

The project also accepts donations, with comedians Sara Pascoe, Aisling Bea and Kiri Pritchard-McLean having all donated clothing. Pascoe, a firm fan of the store, has worn outfits from Salvaged Project during TV appearances.

Sweeney said an added bonus of setting up the shop is that it has created a community of likeminded people who want to help others.

“There’s so many people that send clothes they could make hundreds of pounds selling themselves on Depop,” she added.

Salvaged Project, which sells vintage, designer and high street brands, lists most items at between £3 and £10.

Sweeney, who works as a fundraiser for Sheffield charity Support Dogs, runs the shop out of her home in her spare time. She hopes the project will be able to secure its own space in the future, potentially expanding to offer free consultancy to the charities it supports.

“Sometimes I think I’m a little bit crazy for doing it all.

“My dream would be to have a place for the clothes, but as long as I can help people, that’s the main thing.”

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