Chichester’s first ever community coat initiative launched on Saturday and is already proving a success.
The Chichester Community Coat Rack has been started by the Chichester Observer and the Four Streets Project as a simple way of getting the community to help people sleeping on the city’s streets stay warmer.
People who are also struggling to pay for coats for them and their families are also welcome to come and take a coat for free from the rack, which will be located outside HSBC, near the Market Cross in Chichester, during working hours, seven days a week while the weather stays cold.
Donna Ockenden, founder of the Four Streets Project, explained: “The message is: If you cannot afford a coat, please take one. If you have a spare one which someone else could use, please donate one.”
Despite only launching two days ago, the rack has already been re-filled several times, and Donna said she has been overwhelmed with the positive response and messages about the initiative.”
Donna started the Four Streets Project a year ago, to bring fresh food, clothes and blankets to people who are sleeping rough on the streets.
Donna’s two children, Caiti, 16, and Phoebe, 12, are involved, and with friends, the small team of volunteers provide hot food and drinks - donated at the end of each day by EAT in North Street - to those in need, along with a friendly ear.
Donna said there were currently between eight to ten people sleeping rough on the streets of Chichester.
She said: “There is a homeless problem in Chichester and we are a group of friends who have come together to do something about it.”
Chichester Observer chief reporter Steve Pickthall added: “The Observer is incredibly proud to be launching this initiative with the Four Streets Project and I’m so glad it’s already being so well received.
“Donna and the volunteers do amazing things to help those without a roof over their heads every night, and this is a way for the whole community to get behind their efforts and do something to help.
“So if you have a spare coat lying around your house, especially any spare children’s coats, then please bring them down to the rack outside HSBC. A special thanks to the bank for helping to manage the coat rack.
“Anyone who has lots of coats can also take them along to the Chichester Observer office, located in City Gates, Southgate, PO19 8DJ. (opposite the combined courts).
“We also have a special hash tag for anyone who wants to post pictures of them donating their coats - on Twitter use #ChiCommunityCoats and tag @ChiObserver and we will retweet, or post them on our Facebook page.
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