How One Town’s Old Trainers Have Impacted Hundreds

Living Magazines Jo in old trainers

Over 800 old trainers have been collected in just four weeks by one small Hertfordshire town to donate to charity.

Berkhamsted running enthusiasts, Paul Yearly and Jo O’Neill launched the ‘save your trainers campaign’ after noticing how many more people had taken up running in lockdown.

As Paul explained, ‘As I consigned yet another pair of trainers to the bin, I suddenly thought that so many more people would be doing the same thing and also clearing out their shoe cupboards in lockdown. Surely we could put these to good use.’

He enrolled his running partner, Jo and within a week they had formed a committee, printed posters, and contacted local running clubs, The Berkhamsted High Street Sports Shop, the local Wigginton Community Shop and every junior and senior school in the town. Scores of runners of all ages across the community pledged help and the ‘save your trainers ‘campaign was born.

Collection dustbins were soon placed around Berkhamsted and the result within four weeks was an incredible 410 pairs ranging from toddler sizes to adults and including the latest Nike air trainers, leopard skin print, sparkles, running shoes, squash shoes and even 2 pairs of hiking boots!

‘Bizarrely someone even donated two set of crutches,’ Jo told me as she completed the long process of washing and bagging them up them to make sure they were in the best condition to send to four charities – two in the UK and two in the African nation of Cape Verde.

Having travelled on holiday through this ten-island nation, Paul was aware of the needs of the island children and the widespread poverty that has significantly worsened this year as the Covid crisis has decimated tourism.

Plans are now in place to ship the trainers to Sal Island, two hours south of the Canaries in November when travel restrictions allow. In the meantime, Paul and Jo are donating now to two local charities the Herts Sports Partnership, which focuses on work in the youth community of Grove Hill in Hemel Hempstead and is taking 75 pairs of trainers and Herts Welcomes Refugees that is taking 100 pairs.

They also formalised their efforts by registering their charity as Island Youth Projects and are now planning a further push in their campaign.

‘I cannot believe how throwing away my trainers has now developed into almost a full-time job coordinating this new charity. It is fantastic that something positive has grown from the increase in running during the lockdown,’ Paul said.

For more information contact Heather Harris: