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Virgin Trains and HMP Northumberland transform old uniforms in pioneering recycle scheme

Press Release   •   Feb 19, 2018 09:02 GMT

Virgin Trains staff deliver old uniforms to HMP Northumberland for pioneering recycle scheme
  • Virgin Trains launches zero waste to landfill initiative for its old uniforms
  • HMP Northumberland prisoners will give the old uniforms a new lease of life, transforming them into bags, clothes and blankets for the homeless
  • The upcycled uniforms will be donated to charities The Albert Kennedy Trust, Rethink Mental Illness and HMP Askham Grange

Virgin Trains has handed over its old uniforms to a prison in Northumberland to be recycled by its talented textiles team. This follows the launch in 2017 of Virgin Trains’ new body-neutral uniform range designed by sustainable fashion designers Gerardine and Wayne Hemingway for every gender, size and shape across both the East and West Coast.

Approximately 30 million tonnes of corporate wear are sent to landfill each year in the UK. In an effort to provide a creative solution to this, Virgin Trains’ old uniforms are being transformed into new items by prisoners in its onsite textiles factory. The innovative partnership is part of a rehabilitation scheme that helps to prepare prisoners for life outside, in an effort to reduce reoffending rates.

The initiative developed by Virgin Trains and HMP Northumberland (supported by Hubbub), will see prisoners transforming the old uniforms into warm new items such as blankets, bags and coats to help those living on the streets. The upcycled garments are being donated to local homeless charity, The Albert Kennedy Trust which supports young LGBT homeless people in crisis, HMP Askham Grange and Virgin Trains’ charity partner, Rethink Mental Illness.

On receiving the old uniforms, Steven Goodacre, Head of Business Development at HMP Northumberland, said;

“We’re delighted to be partnering with Virgin Trains on its uniform upcycling initiative. 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.”

Zinzi Dzuda, Responsible Business Manager, Virgin Trains commented;

“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. 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.”


For further information please contact Lily Marriott at Kaper, 020 3301 2261/

Notes to Editors:

Research by Hubbub revealed approximately 30 million tonnes of corporate wear are sent to landfill each year in the UK.

About Virgin Trains:

Stagecoach and Virgin are working in partnership to operate the East Coast and West Coast inter-city routes under the Virgin Trains brand. Together, they are on track to revolutionise rail travel across the UK.

The combined network connects some of the nation’s most iconic destinations including Glasgow, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds, York and London.

Virgin Trains is committed to delivering a high speed, high frequency service, offering shorter journey times, more comfortable travel and excellent customer service. Customers consistently rate Virgin Trains as one of the top long-distance rail franchise operators in the National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) commissioned by industry watchdog, Transport Focus.

On the East Coast route, £140m is being invested to create a more personalised travel experience. We have already invested over £40m in our existing fleet, including £21m refurbishing the interiors and £16m towards improving the engines of our trains. Customers can now benefit from 42 additional services between Edinburgh and London every week, and an extra 22 Saturday services between Leeds and London – a total of 1.74 million additional seats since May 2016. 2018 will see the introduction of completely new Azuma trains being built in the UK by Hitachi.

The West Coast route has a proud record of challenging the status quo - from introducing tilting Pendolino trains, to a pioneering automated delay repay scheme and becoming the first franchised rail operator to offer m-Tickets for all ticket types.

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About Rethink Mental Illness:

Rethink Mental Illness help millions of people affected by mental illness by challenging attitudes and changing lives. A better life is possible for millions of people affected by mental illness and today Rethink Mental Illness, along with its partners Hafal in Wales and Support In Mind Scotland helps tens of thousands of people every year to get through crises, to live independently and to realise they are not alone.

About The Albert Kennedy Trust:

The Albert Kennedy Trust supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans homeless young people in crisis every day, dealing with the effects homelessness can have on young people's lives. The Albert Kennedy Trust has offices based in London, Manchester and Newcastle.