Life-saving charity faces bill for disposing of other people’s waste

8 July 2020

Essex & Herts Air Ambulance (EHAAT) is calling on people to stop disposing of household rubbish at its collection warehouse in Stevenage.

The warehouse, in Gunnels Wood Road, stores goods which are sold through the charity’s nine shops across Essex and Hertfordshire. Since it reopened on 29th June, staff have been dismayed to find that many of the bags and boxes of donations have turned out to be household rubbish.

Donna Lee, the charity’s Head of Retail, said: “As well as staff facing the disgusting and time-consuming job of sorting through other people’s domestic waste, it’s currently costing us in the region of £1,000 a week to dispose of it using industrial skips. That is money that should be helping to keep our life-saving service operational.

“The first box I opened this morning was full of old birthday and Christmas cards. Someone had even gone to the trouble of cutting out the names so that we couldn’t see who they were from. Inside the box there were used tissues, empty bottles of aftershave, a mouldy deodorant stick empty, empty bottles and petrol receipts.

“This is a daily occurrence at the moment. We will now be asking donors to put their items in clear plastic bags or open the bags so that we can see what is inside. This will add to the time it takes to leave donations, but we are confident that anyone who genuinely wants to support their local air ambulance by donating items that can be sold will be happy to spend a few minutes longer doing so.”

EHAAT’s Stevenage collection warehouse is currently open on Monday and Thursday to receive donations. On July 11th the charity’s shop in Hitchin will be the first to one to reopen, followed by Royston on 18th July and Buntingford on 25th July.

Newly-donated items are quarantined for 72 hours before staff handle them. The same arrangements will apply for donations at each of the charity shops once they are open again. Please do not leave donations outside the shops at any time as they may be stolen or damaged by the weather, making them unsellable.

Please make sure all donated items are sellable: that toys are in full working order, games contain all the pieces, and that all clothes are clean and stain-free.

Unfortunately, we are currently unable to accept donations of CDs, books, videos and DVDs due to the huge volume of these items that we have received recently.

For more information about EHAAT’s shops and when they will reopen, visit

Call us: 0345 2417 690

Lottery Hotline: 0345 2417 688

Donate: Text ‘HELI’ to 70588 to give £5

You will be charged £5, plus your standard network rate. 100% of your donation will go to Essex & Herts Air Ambulance (EHAAT). By texting, you agree that EHAAT may phone or text you to tell you about our work. If you would prefer not to hear from us again, text HELI NO to 70588.

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Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust is a registered charity in England and Wales (1108989). Registered company in England and Wales (05397840). Registered address: Flight House, The Business Centre, Earls Colne Business Park, Earls Colne, Colchester CO6 2NS.