‘Coat rail’ scheme for homeless set up in Lancaster

The coat rail in Market Square. Photo by Nacha Hoppo.
The coat rail in Market Square. Photo by Nacha Hoppo.
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A novel idea currently spreading across the country which aims to help homeless people keep warm this winter has reached Lancaster.

Lancaster mum Anna Hopkinson joined together with friends to launch the coat rail scheme in the city centre.

Photo Neil Cross
Anna Hopkinson with the coat rail outside Lancaster library which she has put there to help homeless people

Photo Neil Cross Anna Hopkinson with the coat rail outside Lancaster library which she has put there to help homeless people

Residents can take along their unwanted coats and jumpers to leave on the clothes rail for people in need to take.

Having read about the idea starting up in the south of England, Anna decided to set it up herself in Lancaster.

With the help of friends Anthony Shepherd, who provided the clothes rail, and Ruth Ainsworth, Anna installed a rail outside Lancaster library in Market Square.

It’s accompanied by a sign saying “take what you need and bring what you can”.

Photo Neil Cross
Anna Hopkinson with the coat rail outside Lancaster library which she has put there to help homeless people

Photo Neil Cross Anna Hopkinson with the coat rail outside Lancaster library which she has put there to help homeless people

“I had read an article about the woman down south who had the original idea and I thought it sounded nice,” Anna said.

“I saw that one was in Blackpool too and I thought we could definitely do it here.

“I talked to the library staff and they were really positive about it so I got together with some friends to provide a rail and some clothes to start things off.”

The rail was initially filled with warm coats, jumpers and sleeping bags and protected from the elements by a tarpaulin.

Photo Neil Cross
Anna Hopkinson with the coat rail outside Lancaster library which she has put there to help homeless people

Photo Neil Cross Anna Hopkinson with the coat rail outside Lancaster library which she has put there to help homeless people

“It’s going really well so far,” Anna said. “It keeps being emptied and restocked.

“I keep checking it and bringing more clothes along and a lot of people have asked me about it.

“Someone has also offered to make a waterproof covering for it because the tarpaulin keeps blowing off.

“A lot of people are wanting to get involved.”

Anna said the idea has also been well received by Lancaster’s homeless people.

“I have talked to a lot of homeless people who are very keen on this,” she said. “The clothes keep being taken which is great to see.

“We mainly need warm clothes, such as coats and jumpers, although there’s no strict rule.

“Some people have also left hats and gloves; it’s whatever people think will be useful really.”

Anna said the scheme is not intended to affect charity shops in any way.

“Charity shops are great but if you are homeless and can’t even afford £1 then this is a way of helping,” she said.

“It’s a nice community project that anybody can get involved with.”

* Don’t forget to take coat hangers with you if you are donating any clothing.