The costly impact of fly-tipping at charity shops is stretching some south-east London organisations to breaking point, amid the pressure they already face to survive the coronavirus lockdown.

Bexley Council is among the authorities to warn that leaving items outside of closed charity shops is considered fly-tipping, adding that evidence could be taken from dumped loads to locate and fine those responsible.

Greenwich and Bexley Community Hospice, which operates 17 charity shops across the two boroughs, are among those who have been hit by an increase in dumping at their shops during the lockdown.

Aneta Saunders, the hospice’s director of income generation who looks after fundraising and retail, said while 99 per cent of donors were doing the right thing, a minority were using their closed shops as a “personal fly-tipping field”.

The charity closed the doors of its stores in line with Government recommendations to lockdown in March.

Since then, Ms Saunders said there had been an increase in dumping – with old mattresses and fridges among the unusable trash ditched on the charity’s doorstep.

While local authorities often helped with cleaning up fly-tipping, the price of getting rid of dumped waste regularly falls onto the charity itself.

“It can cost us a huge amount of money annually,” Ms Sanders said.

While they were grateful to the people who donate, fly-tipped ‘donations’ could rarely be used.

She urged residents to wait until shops reopen, saying they would need an influx of donations to raise money after a testing lockdown.

“Keep it in the house, keep it safe, and we’ll open our shops soon enough and we will be delighted to accept it then,” she said.

The charity, which provides specialist palliative and end of life care across Greenwich and Bexley, has seen an explosion in demand amid the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Ms Sanders, the organisation typically provides care to more than 400 patients with a critical illness, many of them in the last few months of their lives.

In this week alone they are caring for 700 patients.

Costs spent removing fly-tipping from their shops directly impacted the services they could provide to those most in need, Ms Saunders said.

The charity was already grappling with a £1m funding gap arising from the lockdown.

“Our ability to generate charitable income has been decimated with the closure of our charity shops and the cancellation of all fund-raising events, at the very time when our services are required by so many,” she said.

To help cover the funding gap, the charity has launched an emergency appeal for donations, which can be reached at

Fly-tipping can be reported to Bexley Council on 0208 303 7777 or via email and at Greenwich via