The Salvation Army Clothing Collection Scheme has its origins in a scheme started in 1985 by Salvation Army Officer Terry Pattinson. At the time Terry was in charge of Mountbatten House in Southampton, a 106-bed Salvation Army centre which cared for the elderly and also provided detoxification services.
Inspired by a clothing collection scheme he saw in action whilst visiting Australia with a church fellowship group, he returned to Southampton believing that a similar scheme in the UK could raise funds for Mountbatten House and provide work for its residents. He presented his ideas to Southampton Council, which agreed to support the scheme, and the ‘Mayflower Community Enterprise’ was born.
Mayflower Community Enterprise produced its first red clothing bank soon after it was established. It is believed that this was the first time clothing was collected in this way anywhere in the UK. The collections were sorted and graded by residents of Mountbatten House, and sold to merchants where possible. The project also included the residents working in other ways such as making picture frames to sell, with all profits ploughed back into the centre.
Terry’s scheme proved a huge fundraising success and in the late 1980s it was adopted by The Salvation Army Business Services unit, which began introducing it in other areas. When Salvation Army Trading Company Ltd was formed in 1991 it took over the project since when it has evolved into the major UK-wide operation we see today.