Self store firm helps out Africa charity venture

An unusual charity venture helping families across Africa has been given a boost with a free storage and loading location thanks to a Chorley self store firm.

Vince Hankinson from Atherton approached Andrew Porter Self Store, based in Huyton Road, to help store the shipping containers he fills with clothing, generously donated by residents and businesses throughout Lancashire and Greater Manchester.

The idea began in 2014 when the adventurous former policeman headed out on a ‘banger rally’, driving cars which had seen better days on the route of the Paris Dakar Rally. The event funds worthy causes in Africa by auctioning the cars in Gambia.

With some careful planning, Vince was able to take with him some counterfeit clothing seized from a police haul, which was distributed at SOS Children’s Village in Senegal.

Since then, he has collected unwanted football kits and huge quantities of outdated school uniforms from around the region and put these to good use in Africa.  The only way to transport these at such high quantities is via shipping container, which can carry more than 25,000 items of clothing per load.  Vince and the team then drive as much as their vehicles can take, thriving on the adventure.

“Our big problem at the moment is funding, as container shipping prices continue to rise,” Vince said.

“Andrew Porter Self Store has generously allowed the containers to be stored in their yard while we filled them. Our own storage is limited so we were operating on a just-in-time principle, collecting from suppliers and loading the container.

“The extra time from having the containers stored locally gave us chance to fill them fully. It also allowed us to strip the obscene amounts of plastic wrapping and coat hangers from the clothing. There are no recycling facilities in West Africa and little refuse collection so our waste would end up on the ground there.

“Also, we've had the assistance of one of Andrew Porter Ltd’s most experienced drivers, Alan Blackburn, who is veteran of Middle Eastern and Russian Far East trucking. Alan has accompanied us to Guinea and Mali. On the second trip, on a desolate stretch of road, in the Sahara Desert, despite all his experience, Alan managed to crash into the back of my car and ruptured his radiator. That area of Mauritania is ‘red’ on the Foreign Office map but after a rudimentary repair in a desert village we lived to the tale. Alan's car still managed to sell for €800 when auctioned by the Rotary Club in Bamako, Mali, which supports two orphanages and a clinic.”

Andrew Porter Ltd has 224 self storage units at its Adlington warehouse and provides professional removals throughout the country.

To donate in any way, please contact the team athertonkitsforafrica@gmail.com.