Giving out sleeping bags to rough sleepers I happen to come across has now become a regular undertaking and in order to be prepared for this eventuality I find myself keeping a few in the back of my car, although stocks rapidly get depleted and need replenishing.
From time to time, I send out SOS’s to my friends on social media and these sometimes get responded to. One recent lovely out of the blue response was from a true blue Tory friend of mine by the way of a parcel from Amazon containing a number of sleeping bags.
Rough sleepers need a lot more than sleeping bags, especially if they are to remain on the streets but that is not for this blog. Sometimes people donate duvets and blankets but sadly these more often than not don’t last more than a night, so not such a good idea. Tents are a more contentious issue as these can (and do) often get dumped, and are not the sort of thing that can easily be carried around during the day, but at least it beats having to sleep in doorways.
I am not the only one on the lookout for sleeping bags. Recently, the same request has gone out from friends from Street Pastors, Soup 4 Southend, 57 West and Warrior Soup Kitchen and will soon be made once the Church Winter Night Shelters start up again.
Being a grumpy old cynic, I generally critically assess any request for sleeping bags, difficult usually given the urgency and the place of meeting is not conducive to protracted discussions. But generally, if I feel there is a genuine need and a degree or responsibility i.e. bags get reused as often as possible until acts of nature or police prevent, then I, along with others, hand out if we have bags to spare.
Usually recipients are grateful, but that is not the point – there is no price to put on small acts of kindness. I could do with more sleeping bags. Being the festival season cheap versions (£5-8) are not in plentiful supply right now and in an ideal world we would order loads at a discount to be distributed to those who can use them… and in a more ideal one none of this would be needed anyway.
If you have a sleeping bag or more to spare, not heavy duty, rolled up and clean (for practical purposes) then no doubt I can find a good home and your thoughtful gesture will be much appreciated.
Update 08/06/2017: Two years on and this blog is still pertinent. Still finding I am giving out sleeping bags on a regular basis. Still finding many others doing the same. Still finding the dilemma of giving out to the irresponsible. And the need remains!