A project that helps the homeless has expanded its operation to benefit disadvantaged children.

Elected Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor visited Hand on Heart at their headquarters, off Lower High Street, last Saturday to find out more about the campaign and their new scheme providing backpacks to children from disadvantaged families.

This latest initiative came about after Hand on Heart completed a campaign to provide essential provisions to the homeless, vulnerable and underprivileged people during the coronavirus lockdown.

A total of 35 volunteer families put together 850 essential packs, with each containing items including underwear, socks, deodorants, shower gel and hand sanitizers.

Watford Observer:

Co-founder Afzal Pradhan's daughter Sara has also been involved in the project since it begun

These were distributed to New Hope’s Haven Support Centre, in Whippendell Road, and eight other locations including St Albans, Hemel Hempstead and London.

Hand on Heart, which moved its operation to the unit in Watford last month, normally provides winter warmer packs to rough sleepers in London.

However, it collaborated with other charities during the pandemic and the summer campaign was its ninth response to the Covid crisis in four months.

Following this campaign, the project’s co-founder Afzal Pradhan explained they wanted to help in other areas.

He said: “Covid has obviously hit many people hard in many ways and in addition to helping the homeless we thought we could help families from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“It could be for any circumstance. Whether families have lost their jobs, needing assistance, refugees anything, but targeting those kids who just wouldn’t have the opportunity otherwise for their parents to buy them basic items. This is where the idea of the school backpacks came from.”

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The school backpacks

The backpacks, which are primary or secondary school children and contain items such as notebooks, rulers, pens and erasers, were funded by the Beta Charitable Trust and donations to Hand on Heart’s JustGiving page.

Volunteers assembled 250 packs on Saturday and these were then given to the charities that requested them, Sufra and Ealing Soup Kitchen, to be distributed to children in disadvantaged families.