The Rucksack Project Barnsley started eight years ago by Aide Flute, as part of a national initiative to help the homeless. The national project has come to an end, but Flute has decided the project must continue in Barnsley.
As the name of the project suggests, a rucksack is needed. Someone buys one and fills it with items that will help somebody sleeping rough over the winter period.
The basic things to put in the rucksack include clean underwear, tinned food, wet wipes, a jumper, gloves and a sleeping bag, amongst other things. A note to the police explaining the contents donated goes in the top, just in case the person gets stopped. A Christmas card is also a welcome addition.
Flute said the annual handout sessions previous success makes people want to do it again: “People receiving the rucksacks and donations were chuffed to bits. All the volunteers were really moved.”
Businesses such as Barnsley FC, YMCA and CK Beckett, amognst others, have been involved in the project since day one. Eight years since the projects conception, they continue to show their support.
Flute added: “It’s been brilliant, just one hundred percent. Everybody, the business community and the public, Barnsley and even beyond Barnsley, have been awesome.”
Homelessness in Barnsley
Figures for homelessness in general are difficult to determine as central government use terms such as statutory homeless and rough sleepers in their official statistics.
Flute explained how people might not notice a problem with homelessness in the town, saying: “A lot of it is hidden away, as you don’t have the same commercial footfall as other cities. We have bad sofa-surfers that could be kicked out. They sleep rough one day and another 20 days not rough, so they don’t feature on council statistics.”
The annual handout is at noon on 17th December at Barnsley Churches Drop in Project (BCDP).
If those who wish to donate to The Big Handout are unavailable on the 17th they can drop off at a designated point. These are
- Barnsley FC
- Liddys Solicitors
- J Rotherham Memorials
- Shekinah Muddy Paws
- Mayjay Carpets & Flooring
- CK Beckett