The Red Cross is selling excess donations made in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire – ©BritishRedCross/MattPercival

The local community response in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire has been awe-inspiring. Tonnes of clothes and other items have been donated to help victims of the London fire.

The council asked people to kindly stop donating as they soon had more than enough donations.

Now the British Red Cross has been asked to help turn some of the remaining donated clothes into cash for people affected by the fire.

What’s happened to people’s donated items?

The public has been extraordinarily generous in donating to the people of Grenfell Tower. Community groups and volunteers have been working hard collecting and sorting donations.

Due to the vast quantity of donations, the council has stored around 40,000 boxes of donations in a warehouse – that’s the equivalent of more than 100 lorry loads, or three football pitches.

Up until now, our involvement in handling items has been very minimal. Instead, we have been helping to coordinate the Grenfell Community Assistance Centre where fresh food, toiletries, new clothing and bedding are being distributed.

The centre has more than enough items for people affected by the fire.

We’ve now been asked to help make the most of the excess stock. We are drawing on our logistical expertise, and retail experience, to ensure the public’s generosity doesn’t go to waste.

What will you do with the remaining donations?

The Red Cross has been working with local community volunteers to sort through donations and separate new items from excess donations.

The best new items will be made available to people affected by the fire to choose from.

The remaining, excess items will be labelled as ‘Shop for Grenfell’ and sold in British Red Cross shops across the UK.

Every penny raised from the sale of these items will go to the victims via our London Fire Relief Fund.

This is a great opportunity to ensure people’s generosity will support those affected by this tragedy.

Any unsaleable items will be sold for recycling and the profits from this will go to the fund.

Why not just distribute donations to people who need them?

Following the fire, the local community response was unprecedented – there was a phenomenal outpouring of generosity and an awe-inspiring show of compassion.

There are now more than enough items for people affected by the fire and the best new clothes will still be made available to people who need them. 

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is responsible for getting these items to those affected.

Why were donations put in storage?

The huge public generosity and level of donations meant that some donations had to be temporarily put into storage by Kensington and Chelsea Council.

There are now three football pitches worth of clothes, toiletries and baby equipment. The best way to look after these items and prevent them from getting damaged is to temporarily put them into storage.

How will the Red Cross help turn donations into cash?

The Red Cross will now help turn the excess clothing into cash by selling them in our shops.

Since Wednesday 28 June, we have been working with community volunteers to sort and distribute these donations.

To date around 93 tonnes of donations have been sorted and 76 tonnes are either in Red Cross shops, in transit to them or being held for later distribution to shops.

Vans have been distributing donations from the London warehouse to our southern shops, while lorries have taken stock to our Cheshire warehouse to sort and distribute to northern shops.

Across the UK, our shops will sell the donations and these will be labelled with ‘Shop for Grenfell’.

To date, around 16 tonnes of new product (mainly new clothing, toiletries and new bedding) have been identified and isolated to be sent back on demand to community distribution points. The distribution of goods is organised by Kensington and Chelsea council.

Will all the money raised go to those affected by the fire?

Yes – every penny raised from the sale of donated goods labelled ‘Shop for Grenfell’ in Red Cross stores will go directly to help those affected through the London Fire Relief Fund.

So far Shop for Grenfell has raised £100,000 and this number will continue to rise.

Absolutely no money will go to pay any costs, salaries overheads or admin fees.

Do you still need more donations?

No – the council is asking people to stop donating goods.

How is the money from your appeal actually going to help victims?

The London Fire Relief Fund has so far raised £5.75 million which will be dispensed by the London Emergencies Trust (LET). The money will help to ensure families affected by the fire do not face short-term financial difficulties.

So far £2.4 million has been transferred to the LET which is making the grants to the most seriously affected people now.

The LET has awarded 76 grants totalling close to £1.5 million. A further 37 applications are currently undergoing checks.

More charitable funds will be distributed over the coming weeks and months.

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This blog was updated on 21 July, 11 August, and 15 September 2017