Making the winter a little easier for the homeless

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AS CHRISTMAS approaches and the weather turns even colder, it can make for a grim time for those living on the streets.

But the generosity of the people of Portsmouth and beyond is set to make the festive season a little bit easier for them.

Following the huge success of last year’s Rucksack Project it returns on Saturday.

The concept of the day is to take along a rucksack filled with essential items such as clothes, biscuits, tinned food and toiletries which will then be distributed to local homeless organisations.

More than 3,000 rucksacks and donations were made last year and were distributed as far away as Bournemouth and Brighton.

The drop-off point on Saturday is the Pompey in the Community Centre, Anson Road, near Fratton Park.

There will be many volunteers there ready to collect the rucksacks.

Organiser Joanne Vines said: ‘The project could not work without the generosity of the people of Portsmouth.

‘On top of the other donations, we are also taking sleeping bags which are the most desired item for charities.’

The Rucksack project was set up in 2009 by Matthew White who decided not to buy any more unwanted Christmas items and instead spend his money on a rucksack that included food, clothes and other provisions which he gave to a homeless person on the street.

He said it was the most rewarding Christmas present he had ever given.

The idea spread and inspired Joanne. She is now helped by Sammy Barcroft, who said: ‘This is my fourth year of taking part in the event and second year that I’ve organised the event with Jo.

‘I love the community spirit it brings out in Portsmouth.

‘Homelessness is an all-year-round issue and one we aren’t going to solve alone.

‘But at Christmas time we can help make a homeless person’s life a little easier and their day a bit brighter.’

Not all rucksacks will be given out at once with some being stored for later months. The event runs from 10am-4pm.

Go to The Rucksack Event Portsmouth 2016 on Facebook for more details.