UK charities got an insight into Emmaus Bolton’s exciting innovations in recycling at this year’s record-breaking Charity Retail Conference.

Emmaus Bolton supports people with experience of homelessness by providing a home and support at Derby Barracks in Bolton. Social enterprises are key to Emmaus Bolton as they provide meaningful work for people supported by the charity and help generate funding to maintain the community.

A total of 36 people attended the special presentation about Emmaus Bolton at the conference at Harrogate Convention Centre, including representatives from Oxfam, Cancer Research, the Salvation Army, Sue Ryder, Barnardo’s, Age UK and many more. This year’s theme was #retailwithimpact and received record-breaking attendance over the two days of September 15th and 16th.

Recycling and upcycling

Visitors to the special session about Emmaus Bolton heard Senior Business Manager of Emmaus UK, Mark Johnson, speak about the growing number of volunteers attracted to the creative activities at the charity’s on-site Recycling Centre and the new lines of haberdashery and materials they create. Recycled sewing, art and craft supplies go on sale at Emmaus Bolton’s Scrap Store to raise money to help people supported by the homelessness charity.

Mark said: “Volunteering in Emmaus Bolton’s Recycling Centre and Scrap Store, really appeals to people because of the creative activities going on there.

“Breaking down scrap clothing is good for the environment and good for sales. If Emmaus Bolton receives the donation of a dress that has been damaged, for example, the charity can still raise money by stripping this garment and selling the zip. Otherwise, the donation would have to be ragged and sent overseas where it would be mulched.

“This presentation at the Charity Retail Conference, really raised awareness of Emmaus and Emmaus Bolton amongst the entire charity sector. We are aware other charities may want to adopt what Emmaus Bolton is doing, but solidarity with others is part of the Emmaus ethos so we wanted to share good practice with others.”

On show at the conference were new products, such as examples of the fat and skinny fabric quarters used in sewing, and a donated dress made out of recycled materials that was created live on The Great British Sewing Bee by the one of the stars of the show, Damien Wilton. Damien gave the dress to Emmaus Bolton when he opened the Recycling Centre and Scrap Store in September last year, alongside then-mayor of Bolton Linda Thomas. Damien became an ambassador for the charity and a regular volunteer.

Thanks from the Charity Retail Association

Robin Osterley, chief executive of the CRA, said: “I’d like to thank Emmaus for their fantastic session at our Conference this year. The theme for 2022 was Retail with Impact as we encouraged delegates to think about the important role that charity shops play in promoting slow fashion and benefitting the environment. Mark’s presentation was incredibly insightful and thought provoking – reflecting a shift in the way the public are thinking about recycling and sustainability and the place of charity retailers within this. It was a great addition to our programme and I look forward to hearing more from Emmaus as their creative courses continue to grow.”


To learn more about us, call into the social enterprises at Derby Barracks, Fletcher Street, Bolton, BL3 6NF, between 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm on Saturdays or check out our About Us pages online.