Given that most individuals currently find it difficult to manage their finances, the events which are staged by The Leeds Community Clothes Exchange offer hope to local people who live across the city. The events are a viable means for people to exchange their old clothes in order to obtain new garments, free of charge. The clothes which will be exchanged at an event must be in an acceptable condition. The garments which have not been exchanged will be recycled to charities such as Wheatfields Hospice rather than sent to landfill sites.
Indeed, the event that was held at the Woodhouse Community Center (23rd February) which is owned by Oblong also provided a place for people to meet and to socialise from 12 Noon to 4pm. The event was open to members and to people who were eligible to register as members following a payment of £3. Claire Edwards who organised the event with Liz Barry explained the reason for membership; ‘In total, there are 520 members, 59 of whom have recently joined us. Each of these people are invaluable as their membership enables us to maintain a record of them. Among the purposes for maintaining a record is to inform our members about forthcoming events and of any credit which they have that can be carried to a future event’.
Although it was interesting to see eight stalls which exchanged garments and other aspects such as jewellery, just one of them displayed clothes for men. Hayley Guarmby, a stall holder argued that ‘Shopping for clothes is an activity which appeals more to women than to men’. To illustrate the point, it appeared that a number of women were prepared to travel from various areas of Leeds in search of a bargain. Ms Bentley from Pudsey enthused that ‘It is important to sustain fashion and to make the best use of resources’. Susannah Rackstraw claimed that ‘The events provide value for money and are always fun to attend’. Steve Wright, one of the few men at the event from Hyde Park shared these sentiments and asserted that ‘I have attended the events for years as the people are friendly, it creates a pleasant atmosphere’.
However, it was not only clothes and jewellery which were exchanged at the event as a cup of tea or coffee served with a cake could be purchased for £1.25p. Alternatively, The Food Co-op which was devised by Oblong sold baskets that contained a range of vegetables for £3.00. The vegetables included potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, courgettes, aubergines and cauliflowers. In contrast, a play area was provided to entertain children and those who entered the Raffle could win a prize after buying a ticket for £3.00.
Moreover, all ten of the people who volunteered for The Leeds Community Clothes Exchange worked hard during the entire event. Equally, the event would not have been successful without Emma Arnold who is employed by Oblong as a Marketing Officer and a team of volunteers that represented the organisation. These volunteers were Glenys, Karen, David, Leo, Sue, Charmaine, Gauthier and Alice. The same volunteers who helped to prepare the hall, to cover the reception desk, answered queries made by the public, sold refreshments as well as the containers of vegetables and ensured that the event was enjoyable.
On reflection, it is welcomed that The Leeds Community Clothes Exchange will hold further events at the Woodhouse Community Center in partnership with Oblong as this event brought people together and promoted community spirit.
If you would like to be involved with the next event please contact Emma Arnold, telephone number 0113 2459610.
Wayne Lamey (Author)
Jamie Tregurtha (Photographs)