Community turns out to support Leeds's homeless

The founders of a new charity set up to help the city's homeless have praised the 'unbelievable' support from the local community for their Christmas rucksack appeal.
SUCCESS: Homeless Street Angels hosted a bag-packing event to help the homeless this Christmas.SUCCESS: Homeless Street Angels hosted a bag-packing event to help the homeless this Christmas.
SUCCESS: Homeless Street Angels hosted a bag-packing event to help the homeless this Christmas.

Twin sisters Becky and Shelley Joyce, 43, of Homeless Street Angels said they were moved to tears by the turnout at their first charity event where people helped create rucksacks full of treats to give the homeless on Christmas Eve. Shelley said the Lord Darcy pub in Moortown, where the event was held, was packed out all afternoon and evening with generous folk giving up their time and donations.

“It was amazing. We had people coming and going all day, helping to wrap presents and also bringing presents for the bags.

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“It was quite emotional, with Christmas songs playing and everyone singing while wrapping.

“It brought a tear to my eye – everyone was so happy and it really brought people together.

“It had taken us weeks to organise and so much hard work and stress but on the day we couldn’t believe the support and how amazing it was.”

Over 100 rucksacks were filled on the night with items such as wipes, socks, toiletries, chocolate bars, scarves and gloves. Each bag also has a piece of Christmas cake , a book and a gift such as lip balm, hand warmer, torch or umbrellas – and every single item has been wrapped up.

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The initial plan was for the bags to go to those living on the streets in Leeds city centre and Headingley but due to the volume of donations, it is hoped they can now also be handed out in Harrogate too.

Generous supporters have also since funded the purchase of three trolleys to carry all the backpacks during the Christmas Eve deliveries.

Becky, who has been helping the city’s homeless for the past three years, previously told the YEP: “Christmas Eve is the worst time for them.

“They just sit there on the floor, forgotten and left out, with no family. But now they will have something to get excited about.”

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For more information on Homeless Street Angels, which provides outreach services to those on the streets in the city centre and Headingley twice a week, visit the website or the charity’s 
Facebook page ‘Homeless Street Angels’.

Big-hearted fundraisers at the bag-packing event at the Lord Darcy also raised over £350 during a charity raffle.

The money will go towards funding food and donations for the Homeless Street Angels’ weekly outreach sessions for the homeless as well as towards the charity’s long-term aim of one day opening a sanctuary in the city centre offering food and shelter to those on the streets.

Called Abby House, the charity’s aim is that it will also allow the homeless to access support, treatment and advice.

Shelley said the idea came from twin sister Becky.

“We’re a long way off but it’s her dream so we’re raising money for that as well as to feed the homeless.”