A CHARITY that has delivered people’s unwanted goods to Eastern Europe for more than 20 years is struggling to survive following the rise of cash for clothes businesses.
Convoy Aid has been transporting clothing, toys and furniture, from Teesside to Romania since 1991 but now stocks are so depleted that its founder Rod Jones is struggling to keep going.
Mr Jones, who lives with his Romanian wife Gabriela in Middlesbrough, is calling on people to continue to support his efforts in the face of economic problems.
“I really don’t know what to do,” he said. “We are a small charity run entirely by volunteers so we can’t compete against the big boys and it is getting even harder since these shops offering cash for clothes opened up all over the place.
“I understand that people are really struggling at the moment and selling their unwanted clothes is better for them but from what I understand these shops only want branded clothes in good condition whereas I would appreciate clothes of any standard because they are given to people living in desperate times with no income at all.
“If people come away from these types of shops with any clothes they don’t want, we will gladly take them off them because we are interested in getting vital clothes to people, not just about getting designer labels.”
Mr Jones, who established the Stockton-based charity in memory of his son, Rodney, who died in a car accident, has dozens of empty crates waiting to be filled with donations.
The 67-year-old said: “The summer is often one of our busiest times with people clearing out their houses but this year it has been incredibly quiet. We have some boxes packed and ready to go but we are desperate for more donations so that we can fill all of the empty ones before taking them across to Romania.
“When we started we had 600 sponsors and after more than 20 years we still have 600 sponsors but it is getting harder and harder to survive these days, so we are appealing to people to support a small local charity.”
The charity also needs godparents to sponsor a Romanian child for £1 a week. Anyone interested can call 01642-220685 or visit convoyaidromania.com for further information.