Big-hearted people in Leeds have donated more than 3,500 coats to an appeal helping those in need wrap up warm this winter.
The winter coat appeal, a partnership between Zero Waste Leeds and Leeds City Council to help families struggling with the current cost of living crisis, has seen people from across the city dropping second-hand coats in at community hubs and designated warm spaces around Leeds.
Donated coats are then distributed for free to those who need them, saving them vital money while also helping to reduce waste.
Since its launch just two months ago, organisers believe the appeal has already saved hard-pressed local families an estimated £70,000. Donation points included leisure centres and local businesses, which carried out donation drives with staff and helped with volunteers.
And having smashed their original target of 2,000 donations, this week project bosses announced a fresh appeal for more coats along with much-needed fleeces and hoodies.
Gill Coupland, from Zero Waste Leeds, said:
“The people of Leeds have shown astonishing generosity so far, donating thousands of coats to help so many families who are struggling financially and it’s a wonderful thing to be part of.
“The money those families have saved on buying new coats can stay in their budget for other essentials and that’s a bit of extra support that’s needed now more than ever. So far, this appeal is already making a genuine, tangible difference and we’d love for people to continue dropping in their second-hand coats along with fleeces and hoodies.
“Leeds has an incredible culture of sharing, and we want to encourage that as much as possible, cutting down the need for new and creating a more sustainable city.”
The winter coat appeal is part of a package of support being offered by the council and its partners to help the city meet the challenges of the rising cost of living.
Designated warm spaces, many of which are also donation points for the winter coat campaign, are also offering a place for people to keep warm and to reduce their home energy costs during the winter months.
They can also engage with activities and access services including free advice and guidance along with free hot refreshments, as well as free access to books, computers and wi-fi.
Voluntary Action Leeds (VAL) has been working closely with colleagues from Leeds City Council, Forum Central, Leeds Food Aid Network and Wellsprings Together to encourage organisations to set up warm spaces.
Funding from the West Yorkshire Mayor’s Cost of Living Emergency Fund will also enable VAL to contribute towards the additional energy and other costs which third sector and faith organisations who joined Leeds City Council’s warm spaces map by December 9 have incurred.
Voluntary Action Leeds plans to launch a funding round in the New Year aimed at filling identified gaps in provision.
Councillor Mary Harland, Leeds City Council’s executive member for communities, said:
“These are tough times for so many of us, but in Leeds, we look after each other. This appeal and the city’s collective response to the cost of living crisis really typifies that sense of togetherness and compassion and it’s something Leeds can quite rightly be very proud of.
“There’s no doubt that there are challenging times ahead but by sticking together and supporting each other like this, we can make sure help gets to those who need it most this winter.”
Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin, added:
“Through our Cost of Living Emergency Fund, we’re working with partners to take direct action and keep people warm this winter.
“We know that our region is being hit hardest by this crippling cost of living crisis and thousands will be pushed into deep and long-lasting poverty.
“That’s why we’re determined to do what we can to support those in the community who are ensuring the most vulnerable can get support this winter.”
To find out more about the winter coat appeal, including where to donate or where and how to get a coat, please visit: www.zerowasteleeds.org.uk/projects/leeds-winter-coat-appeal
Further support available in Leeds can also be seen online at the council’s dedicated webpage at www.leeds.gov.uk/costofliving. This includes help across key areas such as food services, health, housing, water and jobs.
This post is based on a press release issued by Leeds City Council
Photo: Volunteers help sort some of the thousands of coats donated to the appeal
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