About us

Thread Ahead tackles two issues: pollution caused by the fashion industry and poor access to quality clothing faced by refugees and asylum seekers. We redirect brand new clothes away from incineration or landfill, offering them to people with insecure immigration status at pop-up events.

The UK Immigration System

The UK’s immigration system dehumanises, disempowers and harms those going through it. In June 2023, there were 136,779 people awaiting an initial decision on their asylum claim. On average, it takes 82 weeks for this initial decision to be made.* During this time, people seeking asylum are banned from working and are provided with just £6.77 per day from the government. Many are left at risk of homelessness and unable to afford basic necessities, such as travel, food and clothing. 

The Fashion Industry

The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions – more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.* On average, 25% of clothing manufactured globally remains unsold after being produced, going to waste without ever being worn. Less than 1% of these products are recycled.** The vast majority go to incineration or landfill. 

How are the two connected?

Issues relating to climate and migration are often treated as separate and distinct. Thread Ahead recognises that the climate crisis will make conditions across the world increasingly challenging to live in, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. This is not a future issue. According to UNHCR, an annual average of 21.5 million people have already been forcibly displaced by climate-related events since 2008. They estimate that, by 2050, there could be 1.2 billion climate refugees.*

 

In addition to making areas unliveable and forcing people to flee, climate change often acts as a ‘threat multiplier’. For example, the Arab Spring is commonly seen as the primary driver behind the conflict in Syria which displaced 1.5 million people, but the five-year drought in Syria’s northeast which preceded this has been estimated to have increased the likelihood of the conflict by 2 to 3 times, as it forced 1.5 million people to migrate from rural to urban areas.** Climate change sows seeds for conflict, but it also makes displacement much worse when it happens.

What do we do?

We partner with brands to redirect unsold clothes, toiletries and accessories away from incineration or landfill, offering them to people with insecure immigration instead. We believe in running services which are community-led and provide outcomes beyond the relief of immediate needs alone. We relieve urgent, practical needs without compromising on dignity or humanity. We provide things like make-up and jewellery alongside the essentials. We want visitors to find not only items they need, but items which represent who they are.

We recognise that the UK border regime enacts violence in many different ways. For this reason, our spaces are open to all people with insecure immigration status. We want every visitor to feel safe and welcome, regardless of legal status, country of origin, age, gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, religion or disability.

News and Blog

Refugee Week 2024

Today, 20th June 2024, marks World Refugee Day. This falls within Refugee Week (17-23 June). Refugee Week is the world’s largest arts and culture festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and

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