Charity clothes scheme returns to ensure those in need can stay warm

Luke Powell, PA

A donation scheme that offers people free coats and jumpers from clothing rails has returned as temperatures plummet.

The Take One Leave One initiative aims to ensure those who have fallen on hard times during the Covid-19 pandemic are able to stay warm over the winter months.

Donated items are left on clothing rails monitored by volunteers across the UK and are given out for free to anyone who asks to take one.

Television cameraman Saf Suleyman, 33, who has helped set up more than 20 rails across England over the past five weeks, said the service was in high demand.

He told the PA news agency: “I’ve been surprised at how busy they’ve been, but also the diversity of the need. It’s through every strata of society.

“So people you wouldn’t normally expect to be recipients of aid are coming along and being in need of a jacket.

“This sort of thing shouldn’t have to exist. We live in one of the richest countries in the world and homelessness shouldn’t be the size of the issue it is in this country.”

Coronavirus – Sat Feb 13, 2021
(Jonathan Brady/PA)

Mr Suleyman, who has been out of work for the past 10 months, said he decided to establish a rail at Peckham Arch in south-east London, after first seeing the idea online.

He has since helped volunteers set up others across the capital, with more popping up in Leeds, Bristol and Edinburgh.

People wishing to donate must ensure the clothing is warm and clean, while those taking items are asked to wear a mask and sanitise their hands.

Mr Suleyman, who lives in Peckham, said volunteers “do not judge” and do not ask why someone is taking the clothing.

He added: “A lot of people who were previously okay, but were on the line before the pandemic, may now find themselves on the wrong side of that line.

“There is no judgment. If you are cold, you can grab a coat.

Speaking about the amount of items donated, he said: “I think a lot people just feel very ready to give at the moment.

“A lot of people have got a pent up desire to do something good after being locked at home for so long.”

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