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Homeless outreach group offers sleeping bags to those in need after huge donation

An outdoor education provider donated 1,000 freshly laundered sleeping bags to London-based Streets Kitchen for those in need.

A homelessness outreach group is offering sleeping bags to anyone in need after receiving a huge donation out of the blue.

Streets Kitchen, based in London, announced on social media this week it had received 1,000 freshly laundered summer sleeping bags from Entrust, an outdoor education provider based in Staffordshire.

“Thanks to a MASSIVE donation from some scout groups we have hundreds of freshly laundered summer sleeping bags to share for FREE with any groups or individuals in need,” the group tweeted.

Streets Kitchen says it will be handing out to individuals and groups for free and urged those in need to get in touch while stocks lasted.

The extremely generous donation came as something of a surprise to Streets Kitchen. “It was completely out of the blue,” James Noake, a volunteer at Streets Kitchen, told the Big Issue. 

“Someone just posted on a Facebook page I’m on that they wanted to donate 1,000 sleeping bags and were looking for recommendations of charities that would need them. I jumped on there and said I’d been involved in Streets Kitchen and offered to take them off their hands.”

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Streets Kitchen volunteers travelled up to Staffordshire to collect the sleeping bags and are now handing them out across the capital. “I’ve dropped some off at charities in south London and we have a load at our Seven Sisters solidarity hub,” James said. “We also have some for individuals in our south London outreaches.”

Streets Kitchen has sleeping bags at its Seven Sisters solidarity hub and some available for individuals in its south London outreaches. Image: Streets Kitchen.

Since being founded in 2014 Streets Kitchen has provided food, clothing and information to the homeless. It is organised and run by volunteers, many of whom have been homeless and used a Streets Kitchen service themselves.

“There’s no way I’m going to do anything better this year,” James reflected. “1,000 people will be slightly warmer, even if it’s just for one evening. That kind of impact you can make to people who need it is going to be a much bigger thing than anything else I do.”

The cost of living crisis has worsened homelessness, making donations such as this all the more valuable. The number of people living on the streets of the capital rose by 20 per cent in a year, statistics in January showed. 

And across the UK the picture is equally bleak, with 66,000 more people expected to be homeless by 2024 because of the cost of living crisis including 8,000 more people sleeping rough.

Some 29 homelessness organisations this week wrote an open letter to Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak urging whoever became prime minister in September to deliver on the promise to end rough sleeping by 2024.

To donate to Streets Kitchen click here and you can sign up to volunteer with them by emailing getinvolved@streetskitchen.org

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