Kerry Lister-Pattinson – 28, founder Making Winter Warmer

Making Winter Warmer Charity

I’m the type of person who really feels the cold.

One especially freezing November night in 2013 a thought popped into my head; ‘what must it be like for people living on the streets?’ It was that thought that led me on to launch Making Winter Warmer for those Without.

My idea was simple, to collect warm clothing that my friends no longer needed and to get them to the people who do. After leaving school in 2000 I worked as a beauty therapist, but had to quit due to arthritis. Alongside my two year-old child, working as a tour-guide for the Victoria Tunnel, helping the homeless in Newcastle-upon-Tyne become my passion.

To begin with I put a request on my Facebook profile, asking businesses if they would allow people to bring donations to them, allowing me to collect from trusted drop off points. The response was overwhelming. Within about an hour, I had over 15 drop off points across the north east and people were already asking where they could take their old coats, sleeping bags and rucksacks.

I set up a group on Facebook and within two hours I had over 2,000 members (we are now at 6,000). It was amazing how much people were willing to help. People I had never even met before were offering me their time, use of their premises, vans; I was blown away by the response I received.

A friend of mine, Jo-Anne Burns volunteered to help me run the campaign. We managed to loan warehouse space from local umbrella charity called Angels of the North and put out an appeal for old rucksacks, making a list of the items we would be packing inside each one. This included things like a sleeping bag, flask, tins of soup, toiletries, warm clothes, a hat, gloves, a scarf anything that could help keep someone sleeping rough alive through the cold winter.

Some of the donations we received we’re touching. We were able to put treats in the bags, things like boxes of chocolates, £10 Gregg’s gift cards, even note pads, pens, envelopes and stamps, just in case there was someone the receiver could catch up or build bridges with, but never had the means to do so.

We also put a Christmas card in each bag, from ‘someone who cares’. It saddens me to think that this may have been the only Christmas card someone received this year, but it will have meant a lot to them when they opened it.

One evening this xmas we met Chris, 28. He was shaking with the cold and hadn’t eaten for two days. We gave Chris a hot flask of soup as well as a suitcase full of food and clothes and a warm hot water bottle. Chris said the only respite he gets is when he finds a dry spot in a city centre multi story car park.

In 2013, on the streets of Newcastle, there are shouldn’t be people who are literally starving.

Our campaign managed to make up 157 rucksacks which were handed to people on the streets, but we also donated tonnes of clothing women’s and children’s clothes, as well as toys and household items to local woman’s refuges and rehousing services.

We have had big donations from large companies such as The North East Ambulance Service, Hilton Hotels, Siemens, United Carlton and Fenwick. I think people have been so generous because they are aware we are all just a few unfortunate circumstances away from being in the same position.

Making Winter Warmer has now become a social hub where people can find out how they can help in their local area; whether it is donating to us, finding out where their nearest soup kitchen is or how they can help rehouse people.

Charity began at home for me, that frosty November evening last year. It just shows what you can achieve and how easy it is to help the less fortunate. I would like this to be a national organisation ran by like-minded people across the UK. Each and every one of us has the same goal at heart, to help those without.

Please join us and make a difference.

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