ROUGH sleepers and homeless people are being offered a free warm coat in an initiative by Birmingham Cathedral, “Wrap Up Brum”. Throughout Advent, a clothes rail in the Cathedral Square is being filled with coats donated after an appeal on social media.
The chief executive of the cathedral, Anna Pitt, described it as a gesture “to show that we are alongside those people at this time of year when it is really cold”. The cathedral is already involved in several projects to aid the homeless, including working with the charity St Basil’s, which targets youngsters sleeping on the streets, and last month it organised a “sleepout” in Cathedral Square which raised about £150,000.
“The Square is a really central location,” Mrs Pitt said. “We estimate up to 25,000 people walk through it every day, and among them are those who are homeless and rough sleeping; so, for a lot of time, the cathedral grounds are a place of greater engagement than inside the church; so we try to use that space as much as we can.
“The idea of the clothes rail is straightforward: if people want to donate a coat, they can; and, if people want a coat, they can take one. We have had a really huge, positive response. We have had hundreds of coats donated — people have even put gloves and scarves in the pockets.
“When the temperature dropped last week, and it was biting cold, people really engaged with it.” One woman donated 50 coats.
The problem of homelessness in Birmingham was no different to any other city, Mrs Pitt said, “but we have some really excellent charities here doing excellent things. Rough sleeping is a visible issue, and we can’t ignore their needs at this time of year.”