Backpack project celebrates increase in donations

A project that provides homeless people with a backpack of essentials at Christmas is growing thanks to local churches.

A project that provides homeless people with a backpack of essentials at Christmas is growing thanks to an increase in the number of items donated by the public.

‘Stable’ was started by Lucy and Mark Hesford three years ago at Liverpool Cathedral's Dream service, but by this Christmas the project had grown large enough to provide 50 homeless people with a backpack of essential items to help them through the Christmas period.

Lucy came up with the idea after taking part in Operation Christmas Child at St. Mary's Grassendale (her dad’s church) and was inspired to do something similar for adults. Lucy is pictured putting one of the backpacks together.

People can take part in Stable by donating a backpack and filling it with gifts that would be useful to a homeless person such as clothes, non-perishable food, and toiletries. St Mary’s Grassendale and Liverpool Cathedral’s Zone 2 congregations were all involved in the Christmas 2012 collections.

Mark said: "The Nativity story finds a couple fleeing the dangers of their home and simply looking to put a roof over their heads. Christmas is the perfect time to remember the growing numbers of people in this country who face a similar situation, and the Stable project offers you a chance to do something practical about it. A backpack is a small gesture, but it can mean a lot to someone who doesn't have the kind of essential things that we all take for granted."

In 2011 the backpacks were distributed in Manchester, but at Christmas 2012 they were distributed to homeless people in Liverpool through the charity Chapter One, a supported housing project for single men aged 18-49 years based on Aigburth Drive.

Lucy said: “We were overwhelmed with the amount of donations we got this year. Between St Mary's and Zone 2, we received somewhere between 40 and 50 backpacks. It took two cars to transport them all!

Mark added: “It's our ambition that by next Christmas, we extend the reach of Stable much further. We think it's got the potential to go national, so we are working with Chapter One to see if we can co-ordinate an appeal to help their branches across the country.”