The 2020 Shoebox Appeal - 18/12/2020
The Homeless Shoebox Appeal started in Sheffield in 2013, initially focusing on collecting shoeboxes for people accessing support through homelessness services. Shoeboxes were packed with toiletries, hats, gloves, Christmas treats and chocolate. The appeal grew gradually, and now supports many more vulnerable people including those in hostels and refuges, those escaping abuse, those battling mental health and addiction problems and the lonely elderly population of the city.
The current team has been running the appeal since 2019, when they collected 3,200 boxes which were distributed to 35 different charities.
The 2020 team: Louise Froggatt (left), Chris Sexton (middle top), Karlos Seery & Lesley Tempest (from the Milestone) (right top) , Harry Ramos, Mark Shaw & Jill Shaw (bottom)
This year Covid-19 made running the appeal much more difficult! One of the lead volunteers, Chris explained why, “our regular drop off points disappeared as shops, estate agents and pubs closed during Tier 3 and lockdown. Shops were closed, so people couldn’t get out and buy things to put in the boxes, and understandably people didn’t want to go to the shops that were open. Also, we didn’t want to spend a lot of money on storage, and couldn’t use volunteers to help because of having to socially distance and remain Covid secure.”
Despite all the restrictions, a target was set for 1,800 boxes, as this would mean the team could support a smaller number of charities and give them the minimum number of shoeboxes they needed. All systems go!
Anabela, from Sheffield Community Safety Team, and part of the Help us Help steering group provided a helping hand to this year’s appeal. She worked with Chris, contacting different charities and groups, including Archer Project, Ben’s Centre, St Wilfrid’s Centre, Sunday Centre, SWWOP, St Annes, Salvation Army, Shelter and local hostels and hotels where Sheffield City Council is accommodating people under the Covid-19 guidelines, to find out what their requirements were. Anabela was also instrumental in getting services involved in sharing social media posts to generate interest in this year’s appeal. She said, “we all wanted the appeal to be a great success and worked very well together. I enjoyed playing a small role in the massive task of collection and distribution of so many Christmas boxes to services around Sheffield.”
At the beginning of the appeal the team were offered storage by the Church Army at the Wilson Carlile Centre for free, which proved to be an absolute lifesaver! Local supermarkets agreed to act as drop off points for the appeal too. An Amazon wishlist was set up, so that people who couldn’t get to the shops could contribute, and when the shops shut completely during lockdown it meant the team could list things on it most in need. This was extremely popular, and at the peak the team were getting 4 deliveries a day of up to 10 boxes in a delivery. Sheffield people stood up to support their community once again!
Amazingly, the team collected 2,685 boxes and supported 40 charities in this year’s appeal - more than last year, and every charity got the numbers they needed.
A huge well done to the whole team - now time for a well earned rest before you start planning for 2021!
Alison Wise for Help us Help, Dec 2020
Help us Help is a collaboration of local charities, Changing Sheff, SHU, University of Sheffield, BID, Safer Communities Partnership and other services.
We share information about the support available to people rough sleeping and begging in Sheffield, along with providing advice and guidance for businesses and the general public about how to best support people on the streets.