Hundreds of homeless people are receiving much-needed help this month thanks to the efforts of a Watford-based charity and its volunteers.

Hand on Heart has mobilised more than 40 volunteer families for its spring homeless campaign, involving the distribution of 1,000 bags containing essential items including clothing, toiletries and personal protective equipment.

The bags are being distributed to seven outreach locations in central London during May, as well as food banks and shelters in Watford and other towns including St Albans and Harrow.

The campaign was felt necessary because Hand on Heart volunteers noted the numbers of people attending foodbanks and shelters was increasing as their winter distribution drive was ending. Added to this, whole families – including young children – were commonly in attendance.

Volunteers puting together the packs

Volunteers puting together the packs

The aim of the spring campaign is to help and serve rough sleepers and less privileged people in London and neighbouring towns. Hand on Heart has specifically chosen this timing for the campaign - with lockdown restrictions easing and emergency housing for the homeless anticipated to come to an end, rough sleepers require extra support.

The charity's co-founder Afzal Pradhan said: “Helping rough sleepers is not seasonal. A homeless person needs support throughout the year, not just over the winter months.

“During the spring campaign, Hand on Heart will provide fresh clothes, toiletries and PPE during May, and will distribute a waterproof jacket to keep them dry. In addition to helping the homeless, Hand on Heart will support families who are increasingly coming out to our outreach drives.

“It is heartbreaking to see parents with their children lining up in desperate circumstances. Our aim is to offer our guest every opportunity to receive some dignity and humanity.”

1,000 are being distributed in London and across various towns

1,000 bags are being distributed in London and across various towns

The spring campaign drawstring bags contain: a polo shirt, underwear (three pairs), socks (three pairs), t-shirt, deodorant, wet wipes, shower gel, toothbrush, toothpaste, face mask, hand sanitizers, comb, and bottled water. In addition, 500 waterproof jackets will be distributed.

Afzal added: “To mark the end of Ramadan, each pack will contain an Eid card with a message of hope, compassion and kindness. The messages will be written by our volunteer families and their children”.

Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor and his family are amongst the volunteers for the campaign. He said: “Hand on Heart delivers fantastic work to help rough sleepers in Watford, London and across the region. It’s great to have them based here in Watford, providing these essential packs.

“I know they make a big difference to people; it’s that conversation with someone who may have been having a difficult time and providing them with that support.”

Watford mayor Peter Taylor is supporting the spring campaign

Watford mayor Peter Taylor is supporting the spring 

Hand on Heart became a registered charity earlier this year but it has been operating since 2007 to support rough sleepers, vulnerable and the disadvantaged across England,

Since 2019, the group has evolved and provided more than 6,000 bags containing essential items and vital services to rough sleepers.

Hand on Heart is supported by the Beta Charitable Trust, Al Mizan Charitable Trust and a host of volunteer families and individuals.

The spring campaign is the 11th the charity has embarked on since March last year, including drives to help the homeless in the first lockdown and spring and summer in 2020, a schools backpack project and supplies for refugees.

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