An organisation supporting rough sleepers, vulnerable and disadvantaged is aiming to help more people in need in 2022 after the completion of three more projects helped it scale “new heights” last year.

Watford-based Hand on Heart assembled and distributed 1,400 winter warmer packs to the homeless and other vulnerable groups, supplied 150 winter coats to Afghan evacuees and created almost 300 Christmas gift bags for children in hospital in the final weeks of 2021.

This took the number of people the charity helped in 2021 to more than 7,000 and co-founder Afzal Pradhan wants to continue to build on that number this year.

He said: “Our volunteer base allows us to operate and serve in society, as well as build strong community engagement. We hope to increase our outreach in 2022 and serve wider across the UK as we strengthen collaboration with other charities.

“During 2022, we will focus on forming our guest relations team so we can recognise the plight of their situation allowing us to listen and understand their needs better.” With the help of 65 volunteer families and two schools, 1,400 winter warmer packs containing products including a hoodie, t-shirt, thermals, shower gel, toothpaste and brush and face masks were assembled. These were then distributed by 100 volunteers to 20 locations in London and across the UK in November.

Watford Observer:

Watford mayor Peter Taylor with volunteers

Afzal said: “When Hand on Heart became an official charity in early 2021, our initial aim was to help various vulnerable groups in the UK and overseas. At the same time, we wanted to inspire and support a group of volunteers to enable community engagement.

“The November project is the flagship of Hand on Heart’s homeless campaigns and this year we crossed new frontiers in both locality and reach. With the help of over 300 volunteers, we assembled and distributed 1,400 Winter Warmer Packs to rough sleepers across the UK.

“We could not have timed it better as the country hit a severe cold snap during our outreach drives in November. In addition, with the Omricon Covid-19 variant arriving in the UK, we supplied face masks, hand sanitisers and wipes for our guests’ safety and protection.

“We worked alongside 20 charities and organisations, and served in areas such as Birmingham, Southend, Luton and Northampton in addition to London and surrounding areas. It has truly been a humbling and remarkable achievement but could not be possible without the support of our volunteers, donors and key partner Beta Charitable Trust.”

Watford Observer:

The Christmas gift bags packed and ready to be handed out to children

Hand on Heart also worked alongside Hertfordshire County Council to support Afghan families arriving in the UK.

An appeal for coats was launched in December and within a short timeframe 150 were donated for men, women and children.

These were then distributed to the refugees along with 200 winter warmer packs.

The charity also distributed almost 300 gifts bags to children in five hospitals, including Watford General and Great Ormond Street, over the festive period.

Watford Observer:

A volunteer with staff at Watford General Hospital

Hand on Heart’s task force lead Dawood Iqbal said: “It is heart-breaking to see a child experience Christmas Day in a hospital ward. It was pleasing to see the spirits of NHS staff lifted when we delivered the gift bags to hospitals across London and Watford. They knew how grateful the children and their parents would be to receive their presents on Christmas morning and bring a little seasonal cheer.”

You can find out more about Hand on Heart on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter page @Handonheartwwp or via their website where donations can also be made.