Social Justice

Take One Leave One marks four years of helping homeless people stay warm

Four years on from its creation, communities are preparing to launch Take One Leave One rails on street corners across the UK.

take one leave one

Rails were set up in around 30 cities last year. Image: Take One Leave One

A project giving out warm clothing to people experiencing homelessness and poverty is hoping to have a rail installed outside charity shops across the country.

Take One Leave One, the simple scheme making thick coats and jackets available on street corners across the UK, came up with the plan to mark its fourth anniversary, as winter temperatures bite and a cost of living crisis pushes more people into hardship.

An event will be held in Vauxhall, London on Friday January 28 – a year on from when the area’s Take One Leave One rail was set up – with new rails also launching in Leeds, Brighton and Manchester.

“For the last four years, Take One Leave One rails have been sprouted in towns and cities across the UK but this plan will bring them to every high street in the country,” said campaigner Stefan Simanowitz, founder of the project.

“We have approached heads of the main UK charity shops with a simple proposal – that they put a rail of warm clothes for homeless people outside their shops this winter. 

“With freezing temperatures hitting, this simple idea which can be replicated on any street in the world, is trying to ensure homeless people and anyone facing hardship can stay warm.”

The idea caught on in dozens of town centres, with communities setting up outdoor rails which ask people to leave high-quality donations if they can and invite others to take the warm clothes if they need them.

At least 30 Take One Leave One rails were set up across the country last winter, with a great number expected this year.

“We have a great team of dedicated volunteers who want to make a difference to people’s lives, no matter how small,” said Hayley Eroeola, who helped set up the Vauxhall rail.

“One of our volunteers met us when he was homeless. He visited us often and was so motivated he was able to seek accommodation and now volunteers with us every week.

“We see many new faces every week, but there are around 25 regulars who pop by for clothes and snacks but mainly for a cuppa and a chat. Many people can go a whole week without talking to anyone and that’s where our team can step in. It is an honour to be there each week and support those in need.”

Around 283,000 households across England and Wales approached their local councils for help avoiding or getting out of homelessness between 2020 and 2021, with fears the number could reach higher this year as the cost of living spirals beyond affordable levels.

“Take One Leave One is not a charity or an organisation,” Simanowitz added. “It is an idea. An idea that we hope will be taken up by homelessness charity shops across the country ensuring we have a TOLO rail on every high street.”

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