Backyard charity saved after neighbour complains suburban street is 'too busy'

Narelle and Brian Jeffriess have been running their charity for five years for those in the most need.

An Aussie retiree couple who founded a charity that allows parents doing it tough to come and pick up clothes, toys and furniture all for free, say that one single complaint from a member of the public almost shut down the entire operation.

Queenslanders Brian and Narelle Jeffriess have been running Redland Kids Clothes Swap out of their home in Brisbane with the help of some 25 volunteers for five years. They say many in the community rely on the service and that especially in recent years, it's become vital part of life for struggling parents.

Brain said that "a lot" of families in the area "simply can't afford to go to the shops".

Narelle and Brian Jeffriess who run the charity Redlands Kids Clothes Swap.
Narelle and Brian Jeffriess' five-year-old charity was almost shut down after a single complaint about foot traffic. Source: ACA

Community rallies behind beloved local charity

"They come here just astounded that, 'Oh, my god — we're getting it for free'," Narelle told A Current Affair. But one single complaint made to Redland City Council threatened all that.

"Basically [council said] people who live here have the right to not have that traffic and people walking around," Narelle said. "I can't see why doing this is hurting anybody but obviously you have to abide by the law."

One local woman, Tracy Sommerfeld, said she's been relying on the charity to help clothe her grandson.

"Financially it's been hard, so I come here to swap his clothes over and dress him, and he's been a lucky boy, he gets some good brands here," she said.

"People come from miles around to use the service because it helps them with the day to day budget, they don't have to spend money on clothes or toys or prams or cots."

Racks of clothes and people at Narelle and Brian Jeffriess' charity Redlands Kids Clothes Swap.
The couple's charity, Redland Kids Clothes Swap, is relied upon by 'so many' in the community. Source: ACA

Clothes donated also saving them from ending up in landfill

Other local users of the charity pointed to the fact that in addition to the good work Narelle and Brian do, they're also saving tonnes of clothes from ending up in landfill.

Facing having Redland Kids Clothes Swap shut down, the couple were left devastated. "It just helps so many," Narelle said. "In today's society, everybody's struggling."

Now, after the community rallied around the service, council has finally come to the table, allowing the charity to continue running, though at reduced hours. Narelle and Brian must only run Redland Kids Clothes Swap for 21 days per year — not every week as they had previously — in adherence with home business regulations under state planning laws.

People sorting through racks of clothes at the couple's home charity in Brisbane.
Redlands City Council in the end came to the table, allowing the service the continue albeit with reduced hours. Source: ACA

Council weighs in

A spokesperson for Redland City Council said the charity is a "valuable community service".

"These changes help to ensure the service remains exempt from the need for a planning approval and will also help to manage some of the impacts brought to council's attention by members of the community," the spokesperson said.

"Council is pleased to have been able to assist with finding a positive outcome to help support our local community."

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