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Here’s how to make a winter coat donation to help people in need

Got an old coat that you no longer need? Find a winter coat donation point near you and help someone less fortunate stay warm this winter

After a long January, freezing temperatures are forecast and the number of people being plunged into poverty is growing.

Unemployment hit a four-year high late last year, with 828,000 fewer people on payrolls since the beginning of the pandemic. At the same time, eight in ten Universal Credit claimants were in work or looking for work.

Pandemic poverty has pushed 600,000 people into fuel debt on their fuel bills since Covid-19 hit the UK, according to Citizens Advice, and it’s putting more people at risk of homelessness. 

And nearly 69,000 households in England approached their local authorities for help to avoid homelessness between July and September last year, government figures showed. Another 93,490 households were living in temporary accommodation. At the last count, 4,266 people were found to be sleeping rough.

Anyone replacing their winter coat this season should consider donating their old one, provided it is in good condition, to help a vulnerable person stay protected from cold weather.

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Where can I donate a winter coat?

Many of the UK’s winter coat drives finished before Christmas or have paused in lockdown. This makes it more difficult for people in need to get help staying warm.

The Take One Leave One project is spreading across the UK. The simple scheme asks you donate a good-quality coat at one of their sites where it will be hung on an outdoor rail for someone who needs it to take, for free.

More than 20 rails have been set up across the UK since this winter’s project launch in December, 

Some of the newest Take One Leave One rails are in areas of London such as South Hampstead, Peckham, Bexleyheath, Brixton, Finsbury Park and Vauxhall. Another was set up in Bristol with support from electronic band Massive Attack.

There are more in Newcastle, Sunderland, Edinburgh and soon, Glasgow.

Meanwhile charity Care4Calais is on a mission to provide a warm winter coat to every refugee in the UK and France. By donating at one of their many drop-off points, your coat will help someone facing uncertainty stay warm in the cold months.

Do you know of other locations around the UK which are collecting winter coat donations for less fortunate people? Let us know on editorial@bigissue.com

Is it safe to donate a coat during the Covid-19 pandemic?

Volunteers have introduced new safety measures to ensure this year’s winter coat drives keep the risk of spreading Covid-19 to a minimum.

Hand sanitiser is available at every Take One Leave One rail and they are all manned by someone wearing a mask or visor and gloves. Each coat is washed and pressed before it is made available for a vulnerable person.

Care4Calais also asks people wear a mask when donating, put items on the doorstep and take a few steps back before being met by a volunteer. All donations are left untouched for three days before being moved or distributed.

What if I don’t have a spare coat to donate?

Start a Take One Leave One rail in your neighbourhood. All you need is the green light from your community, a rail and a banner to let people know what you’re doing. If you can’t make your own, contact mail@mediagraphics.com to order one.

Don’t have cash to spare or enough time to volunteer? Help raise awareness on social media by sharing charity posts or using hashtags to signpost those in need to others who may have a winter coat they no longer need.