I had a good experience last Saturday at the soup kitchen I am involved with. I gave out three sleeping bags to rough sleepers, all of who I was satisfied needed one, for the truth is this is what separates them from the great outdoors, and they weren’t the sort who would discard after one night’s use. It happened another rough sleeper came along just after and asked if there was a sleeping bag going and I was pretty sure she really did need one. But I had run out! A few minutes later someone in our volunteer network, who knew we were always looking to replenish our sleeping bag stock, dropped by with five sleeping bags, one of which I was able to give to our now much appreciative rough sleeper. As always we were grateful for the timely generosity of friends for helping out with this ongoing need.
I was reminded of this when one of my friends from another soup kitchen put out a plea for sleeping bags and pointed out that Tesco’s were selling sleeping bags cheaply. As I looked to check out earlier blogs on the sleeping bag need among rough sleepers, I discovered I had blogged on the matter twice already (here and here). It also came up as a matter for discussion in our recent SHAN meeting. The relevant minute is: “Fred (not real name) introduced this subject because of his work as a Street Pastor (SP). The SPs give out sleeping bags when necessary mostly to those who have suddenly found themselves without accommodation on Friday and Saturday nights. However, it appears that sometimes they are not valued by the recipients and are lost/stolen/damaged. It also appears that some rough sleepers get sleeping bags from the SPs, the Storehouse, Street Spirit and HARP, and may be from others as well. Fred suggested that the provision of sleeping bags is somehow co-ordinated, but didn’t really know how this could be done”.
Of course things could be done better e.g. acquiring, storing, distributing, cleaning etc. and I will be pleased to pass on ideas to Fred. In the meantime sleeping bags continue to be needed and I along with folk from a number of other operations will be giving out sleeping bags to them that need it, and will gratefully take any sleeping bag going spare in order to pass on to rough sleepers.