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Virgin Trains help homeless get back on track with uniform recycling project

Old employee gear will be turned into bags, clothes and blankets by HMP Northumberland prisoners

Virgin Trains have vowed to help people whose lives have gone off the rails by turning 30 million tonnes of employee uniforms into bags, clothes and blankets.

The rail operator launched a zero waste to landfill initiative by donating old gear to the textiles team at HMP Northumberland to turn them into garments, helping to rehabilitate prisoners in a bid to reduce reoffending rates.

This collaboration 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

Once finished, the products will make their next stop at The Albert Kennedy Trust, which supports young LGBT homeless people in crisis, as well as HMP Askham Grange, a women’s prison in North Yorkshire, and partner charity Rethink Mental Illness.

The move comes after the uniforms reached the end of the line last year when Virgin Trains changed to body-neutral attire designed by Gerardine and Wayne Hemingway last year.

“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,” said Zinzi Dzusa, responsible business manager at Virgin Trains. “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.”

Steven Goodacre, head of business development at HMP Northumberland, added: “We’re delighted to be partnering with Virgin Trains on its uniform upcycling initiative.

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“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.”

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