Last year the Salvation Army Trading Company (SATCoL) had the privilege to work with West Midlands Trains (WMT) on an employee-driven initiative which saw its staff donate over ten tonnes of old uniform to SATCoL. 

The initiative followed the successful roll out of new uniforms (pictured) to over 2,000 staff at WMT, which runs services under both the West Midlands Railway and London Northwestern Railway brands.

Items collected by the Clothing Collection Division (CCD) have included everything from shirts, trousers, dresses, coats, suit jackets and jumpers, to other accessories such as ties and scarves. Donated suit jackets and trousers were de-branded and made available to the charity shops. Other items were shredded and made into mattress filling, insulation, cushions or even the stuffing for car seats.

This is a great example of how SATCoL’s services enable companies to meet their Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR) and environmental objectives and ambitions, whilst at the same time offering a fantastic opportunity for employee engagement.

Colleagues from across SATCoL supported this initiative: our Clothing Collection Drivers collected from a number of stations up and down the WMT rail network; and staff at one of our warehouses in the Midlands sorted, de-branded, boxed and arranged distribution of the clothing to shops. The shops involved in selling the donations were mainly in the West Midlands area in keeping with West Midlands Trains geographic area.

WMT were so pleased with the results of the scheme, that they nominated it for an award. The Business Culture Awards ceremony was held at the end of November, and it gives forward-thinking organisations a way to celebrate work which sets up their employees to succeed – recognising how their people’s employment experience is fundamental to business performance.

West Midland Trains were Highly Commended under the ‘Best Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative for Business Culture” award category. Kirk Bradley, Head of Corporate Partnerships, and Justin Frost, Regional Account Manager, who oversaw the project were invited to join WMT in recognition of the role SATCoL played.

Kirk Bradley, said: "This partnership has been a great success; we have helped West Midlands Railway and London Northwestern Railway staff responsibly reuse and recycle their excess uniforms and diverted over ten tonnes from landfill. The funds raised from the sale of the uniforms has, in turn, raised funds to help The Salvation Army continue its vital work supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged people. A fantastic result from all the staff involved, thank you.”

Francis Thomas, Head of Corporate Affairs at West Midlands Trains, said: “It was a privilege to work with The Salvation Army on this innovative project. Our new staff uniforms proved very popular and we wanted to make sure we put the previous design to good use.

“This scheme is an important part of our overall corporate strategy, which includes a £1billion investment into the rail network for the benefit of our passengers.”

Some of the judges’ comments about the scheme included:

  • Another good description of a company wanting to be a great 'green' employer plus some good employment practices.
  • Clear project resulting from a change in the business. Great example of collaboration for the benefit of those less fortunate than the majority of us. A team effort (on both sides) with demonstrable positive outcomes.
  • The fact that this was an employee initiated project that was supported across the organisation demonstrates a positive culture.

Pictured in the back row second from left is Justin Frost, CCD Regional Account Manager, with Jogoda Kuchnicka, WMT’s Mobilisation Project Manager, and Kirk Bradley, Head of Corporate Partnerships. The gentleman holding the certificate is Francis Thomas, WMT’s Head of Corporate Affairs.

The West Midlands Trains employee initiative was also a finalist for two other awards held by CorpComms and the Birmingham Post.