REBEKAH Hinton has an affable nature.

Her care for her community in West Bowling, Bradford, is evident as, walking along the street by her home, she acknowledges someone familiar and engages in friendly conversation.

Rebekah’s naturally approachable demeanour and care for her local community contributed to the Rotary Young Citizen of the award she recently received in recognition of an initiative she set up when she was then only 16.

The 20-year-old was nominated for the award, she subsequently won, by the Rotary Club of Bradford West, for an initiative she set up when she was 16.

It was while attending the local school that Rebekah became aware of pupils without coats or proper footwear.

Growing up in a family where caring has always extended beyond the threshold - Rebekah’s father Jimmy is the vicar of St Stephen’s church in Newton Street and her mum Sarah runs Shine - a community organisation within the church helping people to thrive - setting up the Clothes Bank was a natural move for Rebekah.

“It was seeing children who came to school without proper shoes or coats and knowing we have so much in the UK and knowing there was a way we could create a specified way whereby clothes could be donated and passed on,” she explains.

This logical idea was ripe for development. Rebekah initially began asking schools for clothing donations and, as word spread, she began working with other organisations such as health visitors.

“I spoke to some of the teachers at school and asked if they could donate some clothes. Then I thought there must be a way we could do a similar thing on a wider scale. It has grown from there.”

Around 200 families have benefitted from Clothes Bank since it was set up in 2014 - and more are continuing to use the project.

While conscious as a society that food banks are already thriving it seems projects such as Clothes Bank are also meeting demand.

Rebekah explains they operate a voucher scheme C2C (child-to-child) shared with social workers, schools, health visitors and children’s centres to make sure the clothing is directed to those who need it most.

“Some of them have to choose between a meal on the table or shoes on their feet,” says Sam Thirkill, referring to some of the families they have helped over the years.

Sam, along with Ellie Clegg, began volunteering for Clothes Bank through their involvement with the church.

What began as a small cloth wardrobe has developed into a slick operation.

Dipping into the neatly arranged stacker boxes of clothing, each marked with the gender and age, within a designated area of St Stephen’s church, the pair sort through making sure need is met.

With Rebekah away studying at Cambridge University where she is currently in the first year of her degree in natural sciences - she also spent a year helping children in Bolivia - their role has become more integral.

“They are amazing at it and put in so much time to it,” says Rebekah, who helps out as often as she can.

They say charity begins at home but Clothes Bank is fulfilling a wider need too helping people from more than 25 different countries.

“It is really diverse, from all different backgrounds. Some of them have lived in West Bowling all their lives and others have arrived here from different countries in a lorry with just with the clothes on their backs,” explains Rebekah.

School uniforms, while essential, are another expense to those struggling to get by. “School uniforms are so expensive and if you are on a tight budget you really need it but you may not be able to afford it,” says Rebekah.

Many families are referred through the organisations Clothes Bank works with such as refugee groups.

Seeing first-hand the difference Clothes Bank is making to families’ lives Rebekah is keen for it to be rolled out beyond her home community in West Bowling to other parts of Bradford.

“At the moment it is making a big difference to West Bowling but I would love to see it Bradford wide,” she says.

For more information about the project, or to get involved, visit or call 01274 738490.