Billingham-based project aiming to feed and clothe homeless over Christmas

Christmas spirit is taking over Teesside this year as groups of volunteers plan to feed and clothe the homeless and others in need over the festive season.

Friends Faye Forbes Spencer and Zoe Lonsdale, both of Billingham, have set up a 12 Days of Christmas project for the Billingham and Stockton areas, and have already had offers of help from dozens of kindhearted people as well as bags full of donated clothes, tinned food and toiletries.

 Faye decided to set up the Billingham-based project after reading a message on Facebook suggesting it.

She said:

“The initial idea was to go out on to the streets with hot food for the homeless, but we realised they can often be hard to find as they tend to hide. We approached some shelters, including Prefer Homes and the Moses Project, so now we’re working with them.

“We’ve asked what they’re in need of for donations, and we’ve got kitchens to cook in over of the 12 nights in the run- up to Christmas, from the 12th to the 24th.

“The shelters are helping to get the word out to homeless people to let them know we’re going to be there, so we’re not sure how many people will turn up.

“We’ll just have to take the first night as it comes and learn from it for the next.

“We’re not just giving out food though; we’re also there to meet people and have a chat with them.

“I didn’t want to be just one of those who drops off donations on the doorstep, it’s also about interaction.”

Faye said she and Zoe have already had to sort out dozens of black bags full of kind donations, and were grateful for every single item.

“I didn’t expect it to get this big. People have been absolutely fantastic. We’ve had plenty of coats, hats, scarves.

“The things we’re lacking in now are shoes and duvets or sleeping bags.

“Loads of people have been brilliant, and I can’t name them all, but one lady used to own a warehouse, and she donated what she had left over, loads of toiletries, which I’ve been able to use to make little washbags we can give away. I’m so grateful to everyone who’s offered help. It’s been hard work sorting it all, and Zoe and I have put as much of our own money into it as we can, but if we can make just one person’s Christmas better, then it’s worth it.”

Faye said the group has also had offers of help from Billingham’s Asda and Iceland.

Anyone wanting to get involved can friend request Faye Forbes Spencer on Facebook and ask to be added to the 12 Days of Christmas group.

A meeting is also being held in The King’s Arms, Billingham, tonight from 7pm, which people can attend for more information.

Source –  Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 11 Dec 2014

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