Don’t bin it, Pass It On

Passing on unwanted household items to those less fortunate might seem like a simple act of kindness - but it can transform lives.

For instance, giving a pram to a new mum can get her out of the house to join baby groups she would otherwise have missed out on.

Irene Allison, manager of Gainsborough’s social enterprise Pass It On, says the knock-on effect of giving essential items to those in need can be huge.

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“We’re helping to prevent social exclusion and isolation,” she said.

“We’re also improving the quality of families and children’s lives by reducing stress and debt.”

“By providing items such as curtains and bedding we are enabling people to stay in their own homes.”

The public face of Pass It On is its shop on Church Street, which is full of everything from clothes and toys, to crockery and bric-a-brac.

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But behind the scenes it works with other agencies, such as Home Start, children’s services and midwives to identify need.

Irene, 63, of Gainsborough, said: “We get referrals from agencies asking if we’ve got a particular item that someone needs.”

“So we might get a phone call saying someone needs a cot and if we’ve got one we will arrange for them to get it.”

“We also help with school uniform, and if Women’s Aid has someone who has arrived in Gainsborough with just the clothes she is standing up in, we can provide suitable clothing for her and her children.”

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“We can also signpost people to other agencies which can also help them.”

Pass It On began life about 18 years ago as a service operated by the Home Start charity, which works with families with children under five.

But by 2004 it had grown to such an extent that it became social enterprise in its own right.

“It grew and grew until we had a mountain of donations and wondered what we were going to do with all this stuff which was too good to throw away. So we set up Pass It On and put in a bid for Big Lottery funding to employ someone,” said Irene, who started out as a Home Start volunteer.

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A shop was opened on Queensway and in 2006 it moved to its current premises.

Irene said there was a desperate need for Pass It On’s services and they were regularly giving items to people who had no means of buying them.

She praised her team of eight volunteers but is always looking for more help in the shop and to collect and deliver larger items.

“All the volunteers are absolutely wonderful doing all the work they do, and all with a lovely smile on their faces.” she said.

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“We can always use more help and we are always looking for donated items too.”

“We actively promote recycling and reuse of goods, we can even get a bit of money for rags so nothing is ever wasted.”

Irene said they were currently looking for people interested in setting up a management board to help drive the organisation forward.

The shop is currently open from 9am-1pm on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and 9am-12.30pm every other weekday, but they hope to open all day eventually.

To volunteer or make a donation call in or phone 01427 615005.

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