After seeing how the pandemic was having an adverse effect on homeless people, Heather Roberts, a senior associate solicitor in Manchester, wanted to do her bit to support the local community.
Heather opted to support the Human Appeal’s Wrap Up campaign – an initiative which passes unwanted winter coats on to someone who really needs it. The appeal supports the homeless, refugees, children living in poverty and people fleeing domestic violence.
Rather than just donate the coats that her family no longer needed, Heather went further and organised a collection in her neighbourhood, using the estate’s Facebook page.
Generous neighbours dropped bags of men’s, women’s and children’s coats off at her front door and in the space of a couple of weeks she had collected 98 coats.
Heather said “It felt so good to be able to arrange this locally to help people in need. I love being involved with our office’s Irwin Mitchell Charities Foundation committee, though this year the activities have had to adapt due to the pandemic.”
The scheme, which also runs in Birmingham, Glasgow and Leicester, ensures the coats are cleaned and then donated to various charities that help to keep people warm over winter.
Heather's full boot of donated coats
Five years ago, Kelly Lingard, a trainee solicitor in Sheffield, decided to do a volunteering shift helping out at HARC and she’s not looked back since.
She now volunteers on a weekly basis to support the homeless and has close links with Archer Project, HARC and the Sunday Centre.
She now plays a key role as Trustee of the Sunday Centre, but that doesn’t stop her helping out wherever support is needed. At Christmas when other services in the city are closed, HARC bridges the gap to ensure people in vulnerable housing and rough sleepers still get a warm meal – with Kelly playing a fundamental role to make this happen as the project lead.
Kelly (second from left) with other volunteers from the Irwin Mitchell Charities Foundation donating to HARC in 2018
Unfortunately the Sunday Centre had to close down during lockdown. So without a second thought, Kelly volunteered instead as shift lead at Archer Project, who operate as the only homeless project in the city.
She also set up the Walk and Talk programme to help combat some of the loneliness that far too many homeless people experience before a pandemic, which has made it so much worse.
Looking forward, Kelly hopes that more people will offer to help, pointing out how many opportunities there are to get involved, which involve different levels of commitment.
Kelly’s keen to see a change in the way the homeless community are supported, and has spent her time in lockdown attending virtual calls with Sheffield City Council and other homeless charities to encourage more collaborative working.
The thought of families struggling to put food on the table during this tough time was heart-breaking for the group of football referees. So, with their favourite sport cancelled at grassroots level, they set their sights on running 100km each during the most recent national shutdown.
The group raised a fantastic £2,628 which will be split between foodbanks in Birmingham, Solihull, Coventry and Worcestershire.
Paralegal Aaron Ford with fellow fundraisers Danny Robinson, Ash Clarke, Callum Fisk, Matt Joyce, Alan Cox, Lewis Smith, Tom Durno, Kev Carroll, Ben Cooke, Neil Pratt, Simon Lane, Simon Brown, Lewis Mountain, Callum Finnegan, Dave Barrett and Martin Shutt.