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Uber will collect your refugee donations for free today

Uber, king of the marketing campaign, strikes again today. For once, though, the company isn’t handing out ice creams, rides with models or puppies – it’s actually doing something, well, good. 

Under the tagline “Helping to move Europe when Europe is moved”, the taxi service has said it will collect donations of clothes, music, films, toys, books and homeware and deliver them to the nearest Save the Children charity shop. The drive (get it?) is taking place across 20 countries, and in the UK will operate across eight cities: London, Manchester, Merseyside, Newcastle, Sheffield, Bristol, Birmingham and Leeds. Collections will take place between Between midday and 8pm today.

The collected donations won’t go directly to refugees, but will be delivered to Save the Children shops. The proceeds will go to the charity’s Child Refugee Crisis Appeal. Save the Children has list of all suitable items for donation here.

To use the service, you move the slider across to “giving” on the app’s home screen and then request a ride as usual:

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I tried this out before 12pm, which is presumably why no cars were available yet. Judging by other campaigns, though, it’ll probably be pretty difficult to secure a ride, as the service only has so many drivers – #UberIceCream left many disappointed. I asked Uber’s press office about the number of drivers praticipating, and this was their response:

This number all depends on the generosity of riders and volume of request. We’re hoping that demand will be great, and if so we’ll increase the partner-drivers who are picking up donations. On a regional scale, hundreds of partner-drivers have opted in across Europe to drive these initiatives.

The company will pay the drivers for the donation drop-offs.

Uber hopes to pick up all the donations in time, but if not, a spokesperson told me the company will release “instructions as to what people can do to make their donation”. 


Overall, this actually seems like a pretty good idea. Lots of us have clothes and books we don’t need, but getting them to a charity shop during the week – when they tend to close before we finish work – is a challenge.

Equally, refugee charities are increasingly asking for monetary donations rather than more secondhand items, as they’ve been overwhelmed by physical donations but now need funds to buy more specialised supplies. Whatever a Londoner has in the back of their wardrobe is more likely to sell in a London charity shop than come in useful for a refugee at Calais or elsewhere.
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