flytipping outside a charity shop
Bexley Council warned people that it would trace and prosecute people whose items had been dumped

Greenwich and Bexley Community Hospice has appealed to people to stop dumping items outside its 17 charity shops, as it is having to pay for the cost of clearing the rubbish up.

The hospice, which is based in Abbey Wood, is already having to deal with a loss of funding due to the coronavirus shutdown as well as a rise in demand. It is also finding itself having to pay to clear the pavements from outside its closed shops.

Aneta Saunders, the hospice’s director of income generation,, said while 99 per cent of donors were doing the right thing, a minority were using their closed shops as a “personal fly-tipping field”.

Old mattresses and fridges are among the unusable rubbish dumped outside its shops. Councils do help remove the items – Bexley issued a warning on social media last week – but charities also end up having to pay clear up rubbish from outside their shops. “It can cost us a huge amount of money annually,” Ms Sanders said.

While she said that genuine donations were welcome, the fly-tipped items could rarely be used.

She urged residents to wait until shops reopen, saying the charity would need an influx of donations to raise money after a testing lockdown.

“Keep it in the house, keep it safe, and we’ll open our shops soon enough and we will be delighted to accept it then,” she said.

The charity, which provides specialist palliative and end-of-life care across the two boroughs, has seen a huge growth in demand amid the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Sanders, the organisation typically provides care to more than 400 patients with a critical illness, many of them in the last few months of their lives. This week alone they are caring for 700 patients – and having to deal with a £1m funding gap.

“Our ability to generate charitable income has been decimated with the closure of our charity shops and the cancellation of all fund-raising events, at the very time when our services are required by so many,” she said.

The charity has launched an emergency appeal for donations, which can be found on its website.  

Flytipping can be reported in Greenwich, Bexley or Lewisham by visiting the FixMyStreet website.

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Lachlan Leeming is the Local Democracy Reporter for Bexley. The Local Democracy Reporter Service is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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