Virgin Trains and HMP Northumberland transform old uniforms in pioneering recycle scheme

  • Virgin Trains launches zero waste to landfill initiative for its old uniforms
  • HMP Northumberland prisoners will give the old uniforms a new lease of life, transforming them into bags, clothes and blankets for the homeless
  • The upcycled uniforms will be donated to charities The Albert Kennedy Trust, Rethink Mental Illness and HMP Askham Grange

Virgin Trains has handed over its old uniforms to a prison in Northumberland to be recycled by its talented textiles team. This follows the launch in 2017 of Virgin Trains’ new body-neutral uniform range designed by sustainable fashion designers Gerardine and Wayne Hemingway for every gender, size and shape across both the East and West Coast.

Approximately 30 million tonnes of corporate wear are sent to landfill each year in the UK. In an effort to provide a creative solution to this, Virgin Trains’ old uniforms are being transformed into new items by prisoners in its onsite textiles factory. The innovative partnership is part of a rehabilitation scheme that helps to prepare prisoners for life outside, in an effort to reduce reoffending rates.

The initiative developed by Virgin Trains and HMP Northumberland (supported by Hubbub), will see prisoners transforming the old uniforms into warm new items such as blankets, bags and coats to help those living on the streets. The upcycled garments are being donated to local homeless charity, The Albert Kennedy Trust which supports young LGBT homeless people in crisis, HMP Askham Grange and Virgin Trains’ charity partner, Rethink Mental Illness.

On receiving the old uniforms, Steven Goodacre, Head of Business Development at HMP Northumberland, said;

“We’re delighted to be partnering with Virgin Trains on its uniform upcycling initiative. Not only is it great to be giving back to local and national homeless charities, but it’s also a fantastic opportunity for our offenders within the establishment to learn new skills which will help them once they have been released, while also decreasing the likelihood of reoffending. .” 

Jessica Kelly-Mckay  Uniform Delivery Manager, Virgin Trains commented;

 “Virgin Trains has a passion for sustainability, so when it came to launching our new uniforms we wanted to make sure our old ones were being recycled in the best way possible. This environmental collaboration with HMP Northumberland gives our old uniforms a new lease of life and is a creative solution to achieving zero waste to landfill, whilst also supporting vulnerable people across our patch.”

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