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Clothes swap donations boost patients' wellbeing

A community clothes swap is boosting the wellbeing of people receiving care on our mental health inpatient wards.

Peer support workers, staff and their family and friends have been donating unwanted clothes for patients at the Linden Centre and Crystal Centre in Chelmsford since January.

It has been so successful that organisers have begun holding public clothes swap events, where local people can donate clothes for patients and take home preloved items for themselves.

Peer support worker Charlotte Spooner came up with the idea for the Community Clothes Cycle after holding clothes swaps with her friends.

She said: “I realised that patients desperately needed clothes while working with a patient during one of my peer support shifts last year.

“She had lost a lot of weight during her stay on the ward and all of her clothes were really too big for her and weren’t making her feel good.

“I had a lot of clothes left over from a previous clothes swap so I brought some in on my next shift.

“She was so thrilled and grateful for her new wardrobe, I saw a real shift in her mood. She even donated her bigger clothes for future patients.”

Charlotte and her colleagues have so far held around 12 events where patients can choose clothes, and swap if they want to. Each ward also has a stock of clothes that can be given to new patients who need them.

Charlotte said: “Some patients arrive on the wards with very little clothing, sometimes just what they are wearing at the time of admission.

“The Community Clothes Cycle meets their basic needs and in turn supports their emotional and mental wellbeing.

“It’s had a wonderful, positive impact. Patients say they feel really supported and uplifted by the clothes and the events themselves. They are grateful to receive the clothes and often are surprised they are free of charge.”

Some of the feedback we have received from patients includes:

"I just had one outfit when I arrived here, so I am so happy with the clothes and the quality. I found a dress that reminded me of a dress I used to wear when I was 8 or 9 years old. It made me feel so happy to have that particular dress. I got support from another patient who helped me select more clothes. Now I feel happy."

"It's really uplifting and nice to know there are people that give in the world and want to help people in need. It's uplifted me."

"I think it has brought the ward together, increased morale, and made people feel more confident with ways to express themselves. It's nice if people don't have anything."

Find out more about the public clothes swaps by searching for 'Community Clothes Cycle' on Facebook.

Read more about the work of our Inpatient Peer Support Team.

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