Taking the opportunity to help the homeless

Taking the opportunity to help the homeless

Driving out of Belfast after a night at the theatre passing the Albert Clock and heading towards the Big Fish I’m always struck by the kindness of the folks providing tea and food to the homeless gathered outside the shelter. And every time I feel guilty that I’ve enjoyed a night out to review a show or been to a restaurant with great friends and yet here are people on the street who would love someone to help, in some little way, but I drive on home to my bed.

I’ve talked with one PR company to see if a cafe they represent would help out and we would walk around passing out left over sandwiches some evening. We were given the go ahead but that never actually came to fruition. I think we never went ahead with it basically because of all the stuff each and every one of us who care and want to help come up against. What do you do? How do we know what someone sitting on the street corner wants or needs? Do they even want anything but a warm bed and a home to live in? Truthfully, I just don’t know.

I have left quite a few events in the city and if I’ve left with food I’ve handed it to the first person I’ve seen outside. I have popped in for a bottle of water on the way to the theatre for a press night show and bought a sandwich to hand to someone. I passed a young woman one afternoon who had handed a McDonalds meal to a young homeless guy outside the Nationwide behind the City Hall. Further up the road I ended up beside her at the crossing and asked her if she had given him that meal? Her reaction on her face immediately looked defensive, like I was about to tell her off or something, but quickly I told her she was an amazing person for doing that. And that it was an awesome gesture of kindness, and hugely inspiring.

So basically I just want to help, all the time, and don’t really know what to do.

Then I received this press release –

‘U105, Translink and Hastings Hotels have joined forces with the Council for the Homeless NI and SOS Bus NI to launch the Clothes for Christmas Appeal. The initiative is inviting people to donate very specific clothing items that are most in need to help vulnerable people stay warm during the coldest time of the year. People can bring their donations to any six of the Hastings Hotels and ten of Translink’s stations’

  
And there it was, a list of what I could do. It couldn’t be any easier!

Requested Items
Jeans (32-34 waist)
NEW underwear – mens boxers and ladies pants
Shoes – trainers and boots (mens sizes 8-11)
Winter coats
Warm hoodies and jumpers
Toiletries: toothbrushes / deodorant roll-ons / shampoo / shower gel / ladies sanitary products and hairbrushes

Seeing the toiletries list, I contacted my local Gordons Chemist (I’ve worked with them before as their guest blogger), told them about the press release and asked them if I bought a load of toiletries, would they be able to offer me staff discount so my pounds would go further and I could get more. They said yes, and I proceeded to go round the store with my list and fill a few baskets full of products before delivering them to the Culloden while I was passing.

It’s not much I know, but it’s a start for me, and certainly better than driving home feeling helpless. Paying it forward, even if it’s donating a pair of trainers or buying one deodorant is a good thing. And if it hadn’t been for the requested items list to know what was needed or where I could take them. I would still be sitting here not knowing  what to do.

So here’s that list again, and the drop off points if you’re feeling inspired, just like I was.

Requested Items
Jeans (32-34 waist)
NEW underwear – mens boxers and ladies pants
Shoes – trainers and boots (mens sizes 8-11)
Winter coats
Warm hoodies and jumpers
Toiletries: toothbrushes / deodorant roll-ons / shampoo / shower gel / ladies sanitary products and hairbrushes

Drop Off Points
Belfast: Europa Hotel, Stormont Hotel, Belfast Central Station, Laganside Buscentre

Co Antrim: Ballygally Castle, Antrim Bus & Rail Centre, Ballymena Bus Station, Carrickfergus Train Station

Co Down: Culloden Estate & Spa, Bangor Bus & Rail Centre, Downpatrick Buscentre, Slieve Donard Resort & Spa, Lisburn Train Station, Newtownards Bus Station

Co Derry/Londonderry: Everglades Hotel

For further information go to www.u105.com/clothesforchristmas/ and join the conversation online #clothesforchristmas.

By Jeff Meredith

  

Post Author: Belfast Times

3 thoughts on “Taking the opportunity to help the homeless

    Lizzie

    (December 14, 2015 - 11:04 am)

    Given what you’d said about them just wanting a warm bed, I thought the Europa was going to offer it’s rooms for a night. That would be really special.

    Marie

    (December 12, 2015 - 2:12 am)

    Fed and Warm take in these things all year round find them on Facebook such a deserving cause x

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