Who We Are
The Winter Coat Amnesty was born in November 2011, as a result of a conversation between two friends who managed to galvanise and scramble some last minute support from their friends and colleagues from the local business community, and two became five! Now the Winter Coat Amnesty is up and running, we are back down to two, but our 2011 founding family are always close by, and on hand.
The reason for that very first conversation was as a result of a fleeting remark made by a Crisis member of staff to Andy – Crisis weren’t going to be sent any coats this year from HQ to distribute to the guests who use the Newcastle Crisis Centre when it opens over Christmas.
Crisis Skylight in Newcastle upon Tyne is an education, training and employment centre for the homeless and vulnerably housed, located in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne. As other homeless services close down for Christmas, Crisis open their doors on Christmas Day and Boxing Day and welcome guests who are homeless or vulnerably housed, in to the Centre.
Andy was already a regular Christmas at Crisis volunteer and appreciated how much the lack of a clothing department would impact on the regions homeless, vulnerable and isolated and so he set to work and as a team, we’ve never looked back. Andy met Claire whilst volunteering for Crisis before the inception of the Winter Coat Amnesty and they’ve been friends ever since, but they’d rather not dwell on how many years ago that was!
We are not Crisis, a charity or a constituted voluntary organisation – and we never have been. There have been just two of us since 2012, but our number occasionally fluctuates for a while, when we call on one of fellow founders to help us with something specific.The Winter Coat Amnesty does not profit (in fact, we don’t even have a bank account!) and every single piece of clothing is distributed to Crisis guests at Christmas, with any surplus stock donated to local charities who support local homeless and vulnerable people. We do it for free because we care and our volunteering at Crisis at Christmas enables us to see how much it benefits others. This is a campaign run by local people for local people which is one of the reasons why we think it is so successful.
Our first ever Winter Coat Amnesty in 2011 got off to a flying start. We had lots of support from the local media, but we basically ran the campaign using Facebook and Twitter. When local businesses heard about us, many offered to act as donation stations which meant we had a small army of willing businesses across the region, so people could drop off their unwanted, warm winter clothing. We were astounded to have collected and gone on to distribute approximately 500 items of unwanted warm winter clothing to the regions homeless and vulnerable that year – not bad given we pulled it all together six weeks before Christmas!
|Winter Coats Amnesty 2012|
In 2012, the Winter Coat Amnesty turned in to a monster, albeit a friendly one! The number of businesses prepared to act as donation stations increased as did our workload, and at times we found ourselves trying to juggle our equally demanding full time jobs, with travelling around the corners of the region to pick up unwanted winter clothing and delivering them to Crisis in Newcastle City Centre . As ever, the local media were generous to us and as a result of everyone pulling together, the region’s homeless were rewarded with many thousands of items – it really was a sight to behold.
2013 was even bigger, we received an unprecedented number of donations with 1000's of donations being received. As you can see from the pictures we had an unbelievable amount of clothes and again the clothes bank was really popular with all the guests.
|A small selection of our 2013 donations|
So What About 2014?
We are ready with your help to go again for Christmas 2014. The number of people visiting Crisis at Christmas increases every year and we don't expect this to be any different this year.Again we need your help this year in order to help the guests of Crisis.
We have opened this page as it allows us to give you more information but we have a Facebook page and a Twitter account where we give regular updates, so if you use these platforms and haven't already head across and give us a LIKE or a FOLLOW.
We are finalising the drop off points at the moment so will give you details in the near future but in the short term if you are having a tidy up of your wardrobe out to make space for your new winter purchases think Winter Coats Amnesty before you throw them out.