National winter coat homelessness campaign launched in Islington
- Credit: Veronika Ward Photography
A national campaign to help homeless people throughout the winter has launched in Islington for its third winter.
The Take One, Leave One campaign, which sees people put items on a clothes rail in a public place for homeless people to pick up and use, kicked off in 2020 on December 15.
Stefan Simanowitz, media manager at Amnesty International, first set up the campaign in the winter of 2018/19 in Exmouth Market after having seen a Tweet from Emilia Flores, a woman who set up the same idea outside a kebab shop in Texas.
The first year the rail was only planned to stay in place for two weeks in the run-up to Christmas.
However, it was so successful that Stefan kept it there for four months and has done the same every year since.
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This year will be slightly different. Due to Covid restrictions, Stefan has decided not to launch his own rail, as it would mean travelling across London in order to manage it.
Instead, on Tuesday he launched the idea of the campaign as a way of encouraging others to set up their own rails. So far, he has heard plans for a rail on Brighton seafront as well as in Preston.
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Stefan described the state of homelessness in this country as an “obscenity”, said this campaign “shouldn’t have to exist” and believes eradicating homelessness “is not a utopian dream”, citing Finland as an example.
ONS data released the day before the launch found 778 homeless people died during 2019, an increase of 7.2 per cent on the previous year.
Stefan described this year’s launch as “a beautiful day”. Singer Ilana Lorraine attended, along with members of the public and local businesses. The event has been retweeted by Jeremy Corbyn and Boy George, among others.
Change is best enabled by individuals, Stefan said, and all you need is “goodwill, energy and imagination”.
His motivation for this campaign was “driven by kindness, but also frustration”, and through the launch on Tuesday, he hopes to “mobilise others”.
The beauty of this idea, he said, is that anyone can do it and in any street.
If anyone is interested in setting up their own rail, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.