People in Leeds are being encouraged to donate their unwanted clothes and coats to homeless people in the city.
The idea is simple: If you are cold, take an item of clothing. If you can help, leave one.
Stefan Simanowitz first set up the ‘Take One, Leave One’ campaign in Exmouth Market in the winter of 2018. Since then it has seen a run of successful launches throughout the UK.
Co-coordinator of Take One Leave One Leeds, Angela Dugdale said:
“We are planning to launch on Saturday the 20th of February, unless we are told no, we will be setting up on Cross Belgrave Street, outside the Belgrave Music Hall.”
The campaign has drawn a lot of support and attention from the public in the last few weeks, with figures such as Boy George and Jeremy Corbyn both retweeting the campaign on Twitter.
“It is a really simple idea, it’s a community-powered initiative, providing warm winter clothing for people in need, especially during this cold winter. That’s either rough sleepers or homeless people.
“Just anyone who is just up against it at the moment or having a tough time. Especially with all of the charity shops being closed at the moment and many outreach programmes being paused.”
Angela said: “It is really exciting to make something happen so quickly.
“I think our biggest concern is reaching those people who need it the most, so they know where we are going to be. I think we will have a lot of donations before our launch.”
An increasing death rate
Latest government figures show there were 4,266 rough sleepers in the Autumn of 2019 when the last official count was done.
However, the figure is presumed to be considerably higher as the number relies on estimates made by local councils.
Britain has faced incredibly cold temperatures in the last few weeks, with the UK recording its coldest temperature for 25 years last Thursday.
Data from the Office for National Statistics show that there were an estimated 778 deaths among homeless people during 2019, showing an increase of more than 7% from the previous year.
The graph shows a consistent, yearly increase in both recorded deaths and estimated deaths among the homeless communities.
Homeless people are facing increasingly difficult conditions due to the combined threat of COVID-19 and extremely cold temperatures.
Co-coordinator Dan Petch, who is working alongside Angela, posted on a Facebook group ‘Leeds Students’ Group’, expressing their need for men’s coats.
Experienced homeslessness volunteer, Amy Bull said:
“I think people always assume, ‘I am not going to donate’, or ‘I am not going to give them money’. This is because they have a pre-conceived idea that it is the homeless person fault, and they don’t deserve it.”