Get your rucksacks packed for Scotland’s homeless

Moray Hunter. Picture: Contributed
Moray Hunter. Picture: Contributed
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OVER 500 sleeping bags are being sought by a Scots homelessness charity, as part of a wider appeal urging the general public to donate rucksacks and handbags full of essential items, such as food, clothes and toiletries.

Homelessness charity, the Simon Community Scotland, is hoping its Rucksack and Handbag Appeal will become an annual event, as it seeks to provide practical solutions for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

This first appeal by the charity - which, in September, marked its 50th anniversary - has set a donations day of December 4, encouraging members of the public to drop off items at one of two Glasgow venues.

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The items will be distributed in time for Christmas.

Operating now in Glasgow, where it was initially based, North Ayrshire and North Lanarkshire, the charity has produced a promotional video, starring the comedian, writer and actor, Moray Hunter.

A team of volunteers is already primed to accept donations and last week guests of one of Glasgow’s coolest restaurants, Section 33, diners helped to get the appeal started.

Moray Hunter said: “Sometimes, I can’t face taking the dog out for a walk when the weather’s a bit rough, so I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like to be out there all the time. Please help those living on the streets by supporting the Simon Community Rucksack and Handbag Appeal.”

Simon Community Scotland delivers around 170,000 hours of support every year and engages with up to 3,000 people at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

It also operates eight residential facilities.

In Glasgow alone, its ‘Street Team’ works with around 150 rough sleepers every month, with up to 40 new cases each month.

Hugh Hill, director of services at Simon Community Scotland: “Rough sleeping is bad for your physical and mental health, it’s unsafe, it’s risky and it’s scary. With winter beginning to bite, it just gets worse. We need donations and support.”

Donations day is on 4 December and is being held at a warehouse in Shawfield. Donations are being collected between 10am and 4pm.

There is an additional venue, near the Simon Community Scotland HQ, and is open between 12-4pm, The Barn Youth Centre, in the Gorbals. The space is being donated by Crossroads Youth and Community Association.

Hugh said: “We’re working to combat the causes and effects of homelessness. Our vision is that everyone should have a safe place to live and access to the support they need.”

The Simon Community began life in London in 1963. It was founded by Anton Wallich-Clifford, a probation officer who felt there was more that could be done for increasing numbers of people sleeping on the streets in the city.

Along with many volunteers, Anton worked to build alternatives to institutional care and established the first Simon Community House. People are still offered accommodation, support and care from volunteers who work and live alongside them in this large group home.

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In 1966 volunteer members from the Simon Community in London came to Scotland to help a man called Danny who they had supported in London and was now again needing support back home in Glasgow. They went on to set up the first Simon House in Glasgow, using the same approach with volunteers living alongside residents.