Homelessness project urges charity shops to join its campaign

18 Feb 2022 News

#TakeOneLeaveOne rail in Peckham, London

A homelessness project that began with a single clothes rail is calling on charity shops to join its campaign.

#TakeOneLeaveOne (TOLO) was set up four years ago by Stefan Simanowitz, who put a rail of warm coats outside Holy Redeemer church, Clerkenwell, London, with the instructions to take one if you were cold and leave one if you wanted to help.

Four years on, over a hundred TOLO rails have popped up across the country, in cities like Brighton, Manchester and Liverpool. The warm clothes are there “for homeless people, rough sleepers or anyone who’s in need during the winters”, said Simanowitz during a press event this week.

Those who want to help the cause can donate coats, hats, gloves and scarves to the cause. 

Homelessness charities Shelter, Centrepoint, Crisis and the Big Issue have endorsed the campaign. TOLO announced it has approached the heads of several charities to see if they would be willing to put TOLO rails outside of their charity shops. 

Celebrities like Boy George, Gary Lineker, Rob Delaney, Alastair Stewart and Guy Pratt have voiced their support for the project on social media. 

Homelessness ‘is a failure of government’

At the relaunch event this week Simanowitz said: “It is an obscenity that we have to do this in a country which is one of the wealthiest in the world.

“It’s a failure of government. Homelessness is not something that should exist in this country, it’s something that we could get rid of, we got rid of it during the pandemic, Finland has got rid of it through their Housing First policy. So, this is a sticking plaster but at least it's something that we can do.”

The organisers goal is to see a TOLO rail on every high street in the UK.

Anyone who wants to set up their own TOLO rail can receive a free starter kit, including a TOLO sign, by contacting the organisers at [email protected]

Hayley Eroeola, who helped set up and run the TOLO Vauxhall rail, said: “We have a great team of dedicated volunteers who want to make a difference to people’s lives, no matter how small. One of our volunteers met us when he was homeless. He visited us often and was so motivated he was able to seek accommodation and now volunteers with us every week.”

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