Above: Olwyn (left) and Kate Chorley with the type of gifts which will be useful.
Two Richmondshire families have joined forces to provide many homeless people in nearby towns and cities with useful gifts that will help them over Christmas and into the New Year.
Olwyn Chorley of Thornton Rust and her daughter Kate and Jackie and Andrew Potter of Richmond are collecting vital items for the gift packages which will be distributed in Darlington, Leeds, Middlesbrough, Newcastle and other towns.
Mrs Chorley said: “We would be really grateful for donations of new or second hand items that we can include in our packages. The packages will be life-sustaining, but, just as importantly, they will send out the message to rough sleepers that people do care and are thinking of them.
“Although we don’t want to be prescriptive, some suggestions of useful items are: homemade, new or second hand gloves, hats, scarves, socks and jumpers (knitters get busy), unwanted warm coats, packs of toothbrushes and toothpaste, combs, tissues, chapsticks, nail clippers, plasters and antiseptic cream, sanitary towels, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, small LED torches with spare batteries, sleeping bags, emergency foil survival blankets (very cheaply purchased online), cereal bars, peanut butter, ring pull cans of tuna, bottles of fresh water and Christmas treats.
“However, I am sure that there are many other items that could be helpful, bearing in mind that the homeless have limited storage space and everything will be gratefully received. If you would like to include a card or message for the recipient then this will reinforce the feeling that people care.
“Rough sleeping must be pure misery, especially during these harsh winter months, and no one actively chooses this way of living. People sleeping on the street are almost 17 times more likely to have been victims of violence. Homelessness can be the result of severe disadvantage, abuse and mental or physical health problems but it can happen to the least likely individuals due to a series of unfortunate life events.
“More than one in three people sleeping rough have been deliberately hit or kicked or experienced some other form of violence, including being sexually assaulted and urinated on and they are over nine times more likely to take their own life than the general population. They are at grave risk of developing physical and mental health problems and addictions and the average life expectancy of a rough sleeper is 44 years.
“I was recently talking to a young homeless man in London whose teeth had been kicked in, unprovoked, by a group of suited city workers. What is that about? Less than a year ago he owned his own house and earned over 20k working as a self-employed plumber.
“Charities such as Crisis, Centrepoint and Shelter do a fantastic job in supporting those in need and tackling the complex issues underlying homelessness but they can’t reach everyone. People who live on the streets report feeling invisible, worthless and that no one cares. Homelessness is something that we are quite removed from in the Dales; but we are a caring community.”
She added that Mrs Potter is spending all her spare time knitting. In September Mr and Mrs Potter raised over £1,300 for Crisis and have been invited to attend the Crisis Carol Service at Newcastle Cathedral in December in recognition of their contribution.
Kate Chorley is collecting items from her university friends at Nottingham. In Wensleydale items can either be left in Mrs Chorley’s garage at Stall House, Thornton Rust. Mrs Chorley is also willing to collect items and can be contacted at 01969 663531 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Those living in or close to Richmond can contact Mrs Potter at 07792 857074 or email email@example.com.
Mrs Chorley commented: “We know that small gestures can have a big impact.”