Weathering the Winter with the Founder of Winter Streets Project

Lou Ballard
3 min read

Hi!  I am Lou, Founder and Director of Winter Streets Project

Five years ago, I had the idea of, instead of buying Christmas presents for my family and friends (who would only put them on eBay in January), I would do something to help those living on the streets. After a quick Google I had an idea of making mini kits with some basic but very useful items in. I decided to focus on the homeless community in London, as I was working in central London at the time and had noticed a huge number of homeless people in the area. I hated the idea of them being cold and lonely during the Christmas holiday, and this was a little something for them. 

I sourced basic toiletries, thermal clothing and chocolates. These items were packaged up in freezer bags to keep the items dry and together. I made 150 very basic survival kits that I delivered around central London one cold November evening. This was, unknowingly, the start of Winter Streets Project. 

The next winter (2017) I raised awareness of my little idea by fundraising and collecting donations, and was able to create 462 survival kits full of toiletries, thermal clothing, rain macs, food, first aid items and stamped postcards and pens. 

The number of kits steadily grew each year with 750 kits being made in 2018, and nearly 900 kits in 2019. As did the kit items. We spoke and learnt from the homeless community about what was useful to them, and what puts a smile on their face.   

Kits are delivered across London, Watford, Croydon, Woking, Portsmouth, FarehamGosport, Southampton, Brighton and Hove, Bristol, Bath, Salisbury, Bournemouth, Oxford, Eastbourne, Winchester, Coventry and Birmingham. 

Each kit contains the following items: 

  • Drawstring Bag made from recycled bin bags 
  • Toothbrushes 
  • Toothpaste 
  • Deodorant 
  • First Aid Items 
  • Sanitary Items 
  • Hand Sanitizer 
  • Shampoo/Dry Shampoo 
  • Combs 
  • Shower Gel 
  • Cereal Bars 
  • Chocolate 
  • Thermal Socks 
  • Thermal Hats
  • Thermal Gloves 
  • Foil Blankets 
  • Rain Macs 
  • Lip Balms 
  • Moisturiser 
  • Stamps 
  • Card/Postcards 
  • Pens 
  • Reusable Coffee Cup 
  • Reusable Face Mask (2020 addition) 

Since starting in 2016 we have helped deliver kits to over 2,200 homeless people. 

Due to the 2020 pandemic, 95% of our fundraising and donations were, understandably, cancelled. This meant we were unable to make our target of 1000 kits for Winter 2020. Due to the lack of resources last year we (the WSP trustees and myself), decided to reduce the kit number to 200. With these 200 we focused on are central London, Portsmouth, HavantFarehamGosport, Southampton and Bristol. These were all location the trustees, my parents and I lived in to keep in line with the Lockdown rules. 

After a very tough year and a lot of uncertainty about whether we could continue our work in 2021, the Rimini Foundation have been a shining light with their very generous donation. This have given us the perfect start to 2021 to purchase 1000 first aid kits, 1000 thermal socks, 1000 thermal gloves and 500 of the recycled material drawstring kit bags. 

From the bottom of my heart, I cannot thank everyone at the Rimini Foundation enough. This has been overwhelming and so generous it brought me to tears. Thank you. Winter Streets Project look forward to helping even more people in 2021, thanks to all of you at the Rimini Foundation. 

To learn more about Winter Streets Project and how you can help support the home insecure community in the United Kingdom, please visit http://www.winterstreetsproject.org.uk. The Rimini Street Foundation is most grateful to the founder and friends at Winter Streets Project for the incredible work they are doing to provide dignity and care to individuals in need.  

 

 

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