Advertisement - Content continues below
Housing

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

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.

Advertisement - Content continues below
Advertisement - Content continues below

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.”

Subscribe to The Big Issue

From just £3 per week

Take a print or digital subscription to The Big Issue and provide a critical lifeline to our work. With each subscription we invest every penny back into supporting the network of sellers across the UK. A subscription also means you'll never miss the weekly editions of an award-winning publication, with each issue featuring the leading voices on life, culture, politics and social activism.

Take One Leave One is not the only coat donation project spreading across the country.

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.

If you’re struggling to find an in-person collection, consider donating your coat to one of the 8,000 Salvation Army clothing banks located across the UK.

Big Issue Foundation

Donate to support vendors today

Your gift today will mean Big Issue vendors will get the support they need to progress forward in life. You will be supporting vendors in key areas including housing, finance, mental health and employment.

Where can I donate a coat in London?

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.

WrapUpLondon
Organisers claim WrapUp London is the biggest coat drive in Europe. Image: WrapUp London

“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. 

To find out how you can donate, head here.

Where can I donate a coat in Scotland? 

There are several options for Scots looking to make a difference by donating a coat this winter.

Last year saw a Take One Leave One rail set up in Glasgow while there are also WrapUp projects in the Scottish city as well as in Lanarkshire.

Only a Pavement Away also collect coats from Scots every year.

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 alan@adelphicgraphics.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.

Do you know any coat donation projects in your local area that we have missed? Get in touch at editorial@bigissue.com.

Advertisement - Content continues below

Support The Big Issue and our vendors this Christmas

Every time you buy a copy of The Big Issue, subscribe or donate, you are helping our vendors to work their way out of poverty by providing 'a hand up not a hand out.' You’re helping Big Issue vendors achieve their #BigWish

Recommended for you

Read All
These before and after photos show the power of a haircut for people experiencing homelessness
Homelessness

These before and after photos show the power of a haircut for people experiencing homelessness

Grenfell, Lewis Hamilton and the Kingspan sponsorship row: What is it all about?
Grenfell

Grenfell, Lewis Hamilton and the Kingspan sponsorship row: What is it all about?

Almost 700 homeless people died in 2020 - and real figure could be higher
Homelessness

Almost 700 homeless people died in 2020 - and real figure could be higher

The innovative 'nap pads' that could save the lives of homeless people
Homelessness

The innovative 'nap pads' that could save the lives of homeless people

Most Popular

Read All
Simon Le Bon: 'I’m very lucky. Solo artists have nobody to tell them they’re being an arsehole'
1.

Simon Le Bon: 'I’m very lucky. Solo artists have nobody to tell them they’re being an arsehole'

The six best things that happened at Stormzy’s Christmas party for the kids of Croydon
2.

The six best things that happened at Stormzy’s Christmas party for the kids of Croydon

The innovative 'nap pads' that could save the lives of homeless people
3.

The innovative 'nap pads' that could save the lives of homeless people

Michael Sheen: 'I’ve essentially turned myself into a social enterprise, a not-for-profit actor'
4.

Michael Sheen: 'I’ve essentially turned myself into a social enterprise, a not-for-profit actor'

With temperatures dropping and fewer shoppers on the high street, our vendors need you now more than ever. Buy, subscribe or donate.