Generous shopper shows Christmas spirit after chance Post Office encounter in Highbury Corner

A generous shopper showed her Christmas spirit when she got chatting to a volunteer in a Post Office queue – and promptly made a significant spur-of-the-moment donation to a homeless charity.

The charitable woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, handed over a wad of cash minutes after learning about the work of The Pilion Trust for the very first time from volunteer Susannah Peel.

The pair struck up a conversation as they waited at the Post Office in Highbury Corner before the kindly donor, who was in the area to go shopping, stumped up �100 – even though Ms Peel was not carrying any identification.

Ms Peel, 25, of Barnsbury Street, Barnsbury, said: “I told her I was on my way to help out with the Pilion Trust’s crash pad, a shelter for young homeless people, and she said she wanted to give a donation.

“Then she put �100 in cash into my hand! I didn’t have any kind of Pilion badge on me.

“I was overwhelmed. People talk about not trusting strangers, that there’s always a hidden agenda, and in these hard times people don’t have a lot to give to charity.

“Everyone is so cynical these days, but hard times can bring out the best in people. It was really unexpected and really sweet of her, especially as it was the first time she’d heard about us.”

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The money went towards emergency beds, pillows and a new pool table.

The Pilion Trust, which is based in Horsell Road, Highbury, launched its young person’s crash pad for this year in the Caledonian Road Methodist Church in Caledonian Road, Holloway, on Monday December 10.

The scheme began in 2010 when Pilion chief executive Savvas Panas saw plenty of young people coming through the doors of its other shelters and felt they should not necessarily be lumped in with adults. It has been run throughout the colder months of the year ever since.

Project co-ordinator Howard Garrick said: “We were picking up young kids at our other shelters and Savvas felt they should not just be thrown in with the adults, who may have different needs. It’s been very successful.”

The crash pad has space for up to 16 beds and has worked with 300 young people since it opened.

Mr Garrick added: “We shelter the most vulnerable young homeless people in our community aged 16 to 23. We’re not just providing hospitality, we’re working with them on their deeper issues. We also do some numeracy and literacy work, art workshops and other activities.

“We then hopefully move them on successfully onto independent living. We hope to get them enough skills and confidence so they can do that.

“We look at what their needs are and their dreams and aspirations and work with them closely to help them realise those goals. We’re not just ticking boxes, we’re like their extended family.”

Visit or call 020 7700 2498 to donate.