Bags of Kindness 2016

I take great joy in helping others. Christmas is no exception. In fact, I generally feel a little overwhelmed a Christmas time, by the sheer amount of charity organisations and individuals in need (notwithstanding, those within our own circles) and the increased appeal to us to donate, whether that is our time or more often, money. This time of year reminds me we can’t help absolutely everyone and sometimes the reality and burden of that weighs on me.

To me, there is something about working on a specific project that feels more useful, less overwhelming, creating something personal for an individual rather than donating to a pot of money where you don’t really know what your money is being spent on, that feels more helpful.

After the success of last year and the complete joy I had being involved in such a great initiative, I am once again joining The Bags of Kindness  project and also coordinating my own drop-off point!

The Bags of Kindness  was inspired by the Rucksack Project and founded in 2015 by someone  I know with the biggest heart and kindest spirit, Lucy Williams (who also happens to be a photographer),  along with the equally lovely Kat Hill  Yolande De Vries (also photographers!)

Bags of Kindness Kat, Lucy and Yolande

Put simply. We collect, buy, fill bags, handbags, rucksacks, old or new with essential items. From cleansing wipes and deodorants, to sanitary towels and clean underwear. Along with warm items to keep homeless people as warm as possible and dry over the coming winter months, including socks, scarves, blankets, which are then distributed to homeless shelters in time for Christmas.

We’re choosing to help vulnerable women living on the streets. Often the reason why women end up homeless is because of abusive and unsafe relationships. Once on the streets it’s often a matter of time before the woman ends up sex working. The streets are not a safe place to live for anyone but even more so for women who often have children with them too.

Having access to basic things like warm clothes and sanitary products can be hard or impossible when you are vulnerable and living on the streets.

Not only are bags filled with helpful items to go some way to help with simple things we take for granted, like dignity, we also really enjoy writing personal notes of hope and encouragement, something Crisis said the recipients were so grateful for last year. To me it’s about reminding each other that homelessness could happen to any of us and more importantly that they are human beings first. I cannot imagine the strength and resilience it would take to survive on the street, so to do one small bit to make someone feel cared for, supported and encouraged to keep going, means something.

The response we had last year was fabulous; simply having a good bag of their own is a gift to our ladies; the fact that you fill them with wonderful goodies is a huge bonus! We are incredibly grateful that you have chosen to work with us again this year, please know that you are making a big difference. It would be great if you were to write a little note like you did last year: this way of personalising your contribution was incredibly heartwarming and touched our ladies deeply. Thanks again for all that you are doing. Crisis Womens Christmas Centre

This is Angela, she experienced homelessness at just 21 and took part in Bags of Kindness to help others.

The Bags of Kindness project has grown exponentially this year with drop-off pints growing from North and South London, to across London, Kent, Surrey and East Midlands. The momentum it is gathering is heartwarming. It is attracting wonderful people from all walks of life to collect bags, sort bags, deliver, write notes of kindness, help with admin or donate.

Given the conflict and divide many of us have witnessed amongst communities and even households since Brexit and the presidential election, the opportunity and community that getting involved with a charitable project brings, reminds me of the decency that we sometimes forget exists, that we are equals, caring individuals, human beings who have the capacity to make a difference, not only in others, but in ourselves.

Not only is this a great project to get involved with, its also proven that ‘giving’ can have a positive effect on our own wellbeing and we are encouraged by medical experts to do so on a regular basis.

Bags will be delivered by the Bags of Kindness team the week of Christmas to homeless shelters in conjunction with Crisis across London and the South East and the Hope Centre in the East Midlands.

Would you like to help?

Bags of Kindness

We have another week or so to go and we always welcome more bags. We have drop-off locations across London,  Kent, Surrey and East Midlands, you can join our Facebook Group to discover more or feel free to contact me /  comment below, to find out more about how you can get involved.

If you can can’t make your own physical bag but still want to get involved with the project you are welcome to donate to the Bags of Kindness Just giving Page funds raised here will support collection and storage of the bags, transport for getting them to where they’ll be most needed, and buying much-needed items to add to the bags.

For further information please do join the Bags of Kindness Facebook Group

Bags of Kindness

Other ways of Helping

As a side note, if you do see any homeless people on the street who you are concerned about, please report their location via Street Link and an outreach worker in their area will investigate and aim to locate them and offer help and support to connect them to local services

The Talent

Unless otherwise stated photography courtesy of My Heart Skipped via Bags of Kindness

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One Response to “Bags of Kindness 2016”

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    December 9, 2016 at 8:43 am #

    Nice blog, very interesting, thank you for sharing the blog.