Help the Homeless: Clothing Collection

“The aim of the collection is to procure as much unwanted clothing as possible for homeless people this Christmas.”

A group of students, under the guidance of Maggie McDowell (a part-time teacher in the School of Applied Social Sciences), are launching an appeal to collect unwanted clothing for the homeless. All collected clothing will be distributed through a charity called The Cyrenians: a regional charity that helps in supporting around 1,600 homeless people each month. The help that The Cyrenians offer includes the provision of hostel accommodation, support for those affected by drugs and alcohol, employment opportunities and training initiatives. The charity is based in Newcastle, Sunderland and Durham.

The aim of the collection is to procure as much unwanted clothing as possible for homeless people this Christmas. The collection will be carried out across the Durham Campus between the 2nd – 16th December 2013 and all donated clothing will subsequently be transferred to The Cyrenians charity in Newcastle on Friday 20th December.

A similar appeal was held in December 2012 and June 2013 by Maggie McDowell. Maggie’s knowledge of homelessness stems from her research into the experiences of homeless women within the North-East region. Such research has since led her to support the work that homeless charities do. In the two previous collections organized by Maggie, staff and students donated over fifty bin bags of clothing, blankets and shoes, and students are hoping to collect even more this year. Maggie has said:

“I became aware that homeless service providers collect and distribute clothing and footwear… [but] rely heavily on donations from the public.”

Therefore, this collection could be your chance to help a homeless person this Christmas. Open your wardrobe and ask yourself: “Do I use all of that clothing?” Could you not lend a hand or even a pair of socks? The Cyrenians, based on the last appeal, said that:

“it is because of the generosity of individuals and organizations such as yourselves, that The Cyrenians can continue its vital work with the vulnerable and homeless people throughout Tyneside.”

People can become homeless through a series of circumstances. Maggie, when interviewing women for her PhD, found that the average ages of homeless people ranged from sixteen to the mid-fifties, with one woman stating that she was homeless because she had lived in a tied house, which meant that when she lost her job, she also lost her home.

The students organizing the collection are looking for any type of unwanted clothing: this could include footwear, bedding, coats, trousers, jumpers, t-shirts, dresses, skirts, hats, etc. Anything. It may be the smallest or the biggest item, but everything does help. Any piece of clothing that is donated, especially in this cold climate, could help keep people warm.

This year, Durham students have taken the original appeal a step further by raising money to buy toiletries for the homeless. You may ask: ‘Why?’ Well, we all too often take for granted the little things like toothpaste, toothbrushes and even toilet paper. However, these things do come at a price. Therefore, Durham students are carrying out a series of fundraising events throughout the Durham Campus, in order to help those affected by homelessness keep warm, and healthy, through the winter.

The first event organized by students (aimed at raising financial aid before the clothing collection takes place) occurred on Monday, 25th November 2013, when students sold Krispy Kreme doughnuts at St John’s College and raised £44.00 in a matter of hours. Fundraising events are going to continue up until the 16th December in order to raise as much money as possible, so that as many individuals as possible can be helped. On Friday, 29th November 2013, students will be situated in Elvet Riverside 1 and will be selling Krispy Kreme doughnuts throughout the day in order to raise more money. This will be happening from 10am until 5pm. Just go along and buy a doughnut; they are £1.00 each and you could even ask a question about the clothing collection or more generally about The Cyrenians charity.

If you would like to help with the collection, you can do so by ensuring that you tell anybody you know about the appeal. Spread the word. Get everyone involved, whether they be from your college or from your own home. The clothing collection will begin on the 2nd December and each college has its own representative who will deal with the collection and handling of all donated clothing.

Below is the list of college representatives that will be taking part in the clothing collection. If you have any direct questions or want to know more about the clothing collection, then please simply contact any of the people named below.

Collingwood: Lydia Powell (

Angharad Butler-Rees


Grey: Lara Dolden (

Malin Aluwini-Fiska


Hatfield: Charlotte Bell (

Rosa Alexander (

Butler: Jodie Hope (

Thomas Schiller (

St Aidan’s: Kristiana Bebre (

Shuran Yang (

St Chad’s: Awaiting finalisation

St Cuthbert’s:Veronika Nagy (

St Hild & St Bede: Eliza Cummings-Cove


Heather Parke (

St John’s: Beth Jermey (

St Mary’s: Nathan Lamb (

Alice Madden (

Trevelyan: Charlotte Slaughter


University: Esther Clyde (

Van Mildert: Katriin Bachmann


If you would like to become more directly involved with the collection, please email Maggie McDowell at: to see what you could do directly to help with such a great cause.

For any further information, or to keep up to date on the progress of the collection, go to:

Lastly, if you would like to know more about The Cyrenians charity, please visit their website at the following address:

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