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
by: Hannah Westwater, Liam Geraghty
16 Nov 2021
As temperatures plunge this winter, life gets harder for people living on the streets and for people living below the poverty line who are pushed into the position of choosing whether to heat or eat – making a coat donation is a small way in which you can help.
With The Big Issue’s Stop Mass Homelessness campaign warning of a surge in people losing their homes this winter, there is a risk people could be facing the elements more than any time in previous living memory.
While there are many ways you can help out, perhaps the simplest is donating a winter coat.
If you have a big bulky coat just taking up space in the back of your wardrobe, stuffed in a cupboard or under the bed, it could make a potentially life-saving difference to someone in need.
Here’s how you can donate your coat – or simply set up a place for others to do so.
Where can I donate a winter coat?
There are tons of people doing good across the UK with national initiatives and local grassroots projects up and running all over the country.
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Now in its fourth winter, Take One Leave One is returning in 2021 with the same simple concept that made it such a hit last year.
Founded by investigative journalist and campaigner Stefan Simanowitz, the idea involves leaving a rail out on the street for people to hang up their coat and for others in need to come and pick one out.
There were more than 20 rails set up across the country last year from across London up to Newcastle and Glasgow while one effort in Bristol even caught the attention of British band Massive Attack.
Simanowitz is set to hold a launch for this year’s initiative next month.
He told The Big Issue anyone can set up a Take One Leave One rail in their area simply by putting out a rail and putting up a sign. The campaigner can even send out a sign for a small fee.
”This is a really simple, scalable, sticky idea. And what happens with a sticky idea is it can grow very quickly. Really anyone can do it,” said Simanowitz.
“What I love about the idea and what makes it work is the simplicity and simplicity of the name and the concept and the sign.
“It’s for anyone who feels they need a coat, they can come and get one and this isn’t about judging. It’s really about cutting out that middleman.”
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WrapUp is a nationwide coat donation drive run by local Rotary clubs in partnership with the charity HandsOn London. Last year the project collected and distributed 29,033 coats to people who need them.
Human Appeal also runs WrapUp projects in Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Bradford, Glasgow, Leicester and London and the charity took in 5,466 coats in 2020.
There are also satellite projects run by Rotary clubs in provincial towns and regions outside the big cities. Further WrapUp initiatives can be found in Bolton, Brampton & Longtown, Bury, Cardiff, Central Lancashire, Cumbria South, East Lancashire, Essex, Lanarkshire, Middlesbrough, Salford, South Fylde, Stockport, Tameside, West of Scotland. Find your local project here.
Only A Pavement Away runs an annual Winter Warmth campaign that takes in more than just coats. Last year the campaign took in around £93,000 worth of clothing and essentials for people facing homelessness including 500 flasks, 1,500 backpacks and 1,500 gloves.
Plenty of coats were included in the 1,600 items of clothing and 23,000 food pouches that were also donated across London, Brighton, Manchester and Norfolk last year.
The campaign is travelling the country and has already taken in donations in Scotland, London and Brighton while collections in Birmingham (November 16), Norwich (November 26 and Manchester (December 2) are still to come.
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.
Is it safe to donate a coat during the Covid-19 pandemic?
Volunteers introduced a number of new safety measures last year to ensure winter coat donation drives kept 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.
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WrapUp London is currently collecting coats until November 28, including running collections at five Transport for London stations and hundreds of pop-up collections across the English capital.
Dubbed the biggest coat drive in Europe by organisers, WrapUp London is part of the national WrapUp project but is returning to commuter stations Waterloo, Victoria, London Bridge, Kings Cross and Moorgate in 2021 after a year away due to Covid.
As well as providing warm coats, the projects offer a gateway to help people experiencing homelessness into support and back on their feet, according to HandsOnLondon CEO Jon Meech.
“We are so pleased to be back collecting coats in the Tube stations this year, thanks to our partners at TFL,” said Meech. “However, last year was a huge learning experience, with the support of Safestore and our volunteers’ local collections changing the way we will run WrapUp London forever.
“We are excited to have even more drop off points this year, so people feel safe to donate a coat locally.”
For more information on how to donate a coat, run a local collection or volunteer at a WrapUp London coat sorting hub, head here.
Where can I donate a coat in Wales?
As well as the WrapUp projects across England, Feed Newport CIC runs its own version in the Welsh city.
Now in its fourth year, WrapUp Newport is running through the whole of November 2021 with two coat donation boxes at the Morrisons store in the Rogerstone area of the city.
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.
Do you know any coat donation projects in your local area that we have missed? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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