Staff ‘overwhelmed’ by donations for homeless women

Coffee shop assistant Katie George with day centre volunteer Charlie Davies and charity head Paul Young from Off the Fence
Coffee shop assistant Katie George with day centre volunteer Charlie Davies and charity head Paul Young from Off the Fence

A homeless charity has been handed handbags and toiletries for women, after it revealed most of its donations were for men.

Staff from the coffee shop at family-run garden centre South Downs Nurseries in Hassocks popped in to Off The Fence’s Hove office with the items. The affectionately-named ‘Old Bag Campaign’ initiative was sparked by an idea from coffee shop manager Karin Reinger, after speaking to charity boss Paul Young about the lack in donations for women.

“Often the women go without vital toiletries, especially feminine hygiene products,” said Karin, “So we came up with the idea of asking our customers to donate their old handbags and toiletries to go with them, with the idea that homeless women on the street could be handed a bag containing these items.”

The garden centre, part of family-owned Tates of Sussex, is running the campaign throughout the summer, and said it has been overwhelmed by the response from its customers.

Marketing assistant Rebecca Houghton-Knapp said: “As a female it’s hard to imagine going without items as simple as sanitary products. We set up the bin thinking we’d be able to take a few bags down to Off the Fence, but we’ve been so inundated with donations we’re emptying it nearly every day!”

The Hove-based charity has recently opened its new shower van, partially funded by both Tates Garden Centres and Tates Cars.