'˜Coat rail' scheme for homeless set up in Lancaster

A novel idea currently spreading across the country which aims to help homeless people keep warm this winter has reached Lancaster.

Friday, 20th January 2017, 11:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 24th January 2017, 10:12 am
The coat rail in Market Square. Photo by Nacha Hoppo.

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

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.

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

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”.

“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.

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

“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.

“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.

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

“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.

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

“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.

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