Five members of the PA Housing team were up bright and early on Monday morning (16 December) delivering rucksacks crammed full of essential items to homelessness services across Leicester.
Employees at the Bede Island Road-based housing association have donated enough gloves, scarves, socks and toiletries to fill more than 160 rucksacks, with McDonald’s Leicester providing food vouchers for every recipient.
The day began at 6.30am, with the team visiting the Breakfast Club at The Bridge Homelessness to Hope on Melton Street. By 8am, the volunteers had reached Number 5 project at Humberstone Gate, and at 1pm, their busy morning ended at the YASC day centre on Conduit Street.
The three volunteers who organised the project were Vanita Chavda, Floating Sheltered Tenancy Officer at PA Housing, Kelly Morley, Sheltered Tenancy Officer, and Leigh Robinson, Independent Living Tenancy Officer.
“In the run up to Christmas, we wanted to do something to help the people we see on the streets in Leicester every single day,” said Vanita.
“We have great relationships with homelessness services across our city, so we reached out to them with our idea of a ‘reverse advent calendar’, which would involve our colleagues bringing donations into the office during the countdown to Christmas. The rucksacks will hopefully help those who are homeless to live a little more comfortably throughout the festive season and beyond.”
Simon Hatchman, Executive Director of Resources at PA Housing, added: “Well done to everyone who contributed to this project.
“All of us who work in the social housing sector understand just how much housing need is out there at the moment, and we’re doing all we can to provide the homes and services that make a long-term difference.
“Our team members’ Christmas project represents just how much they care about those who don’t have a place to call home – we’re very proud of their hard work and dedication now and all year round.”
Angus Fraser, Franchise Owner at McDonalds in Leicester city centre, said: “McDonald’s is a big presence in the city centre and we’re always keen to make sure we’re giving back, so projects like this are really important for us to be involved in.
“The problem of street homelessness is such a huge and complicated one which requires so much multi-faceted support, but these initiatives can make a huge impact to those in need, especially at this time of year.
“I want to be able to say, hand on heart, that we’re helping to support people and do our bit, so when PA Housing asked for our help, we jumped at the chance. The team have done a great job in pulling it all together and I’m sure it will make a real impact this Christmas.”
Jo Leslie, Project Support Worker at The Bridge Homelessness to Hope, said: “Our guests really appreciated the backpacks. Thank you to the PA Housing team for thinking about our service – we look forward to doing more work together in 2020.”