Category Archives: Charities

Volunteers’ Week 2020

Vol week Logo colour large

I’ve been reflecting during Volunteer Week on what volunteering means to me. During the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s also been heartening to see a ‘volunteer movement’ with many people helping others in their communities. 

I hope we come out of this pandemic with a fairer, compassionate society where we continue to help and care for each other. I also know there’s so many great volunteers out there, doing amazing things. 

I’ve volunteered in various roles over the years, and I’ve gained so much from every experience. I thought I’d highlight a few amazing organisations I’ve been lucky to have become involved with. 

The Simon Community


I started volunteering with the homeless charity, The Simon Community in 2019. I’m part of their StreetReads project, which brings books and reading to homeless and vulnerable people who have difficulty accessing things we take for granted. There are plans to develop a library in a hub in Glasgow, which is on hold at the moment due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We have however gathered donations of books which we have been delivering to various people we look after, including sourcing some books in other languages. We’ve also been able to give children’s books to some families who need them. And we’re always on the lookout for book donations to keep our stocks up. The Simon Community also launched their #GiveHope emergency appeal. Many people and businesses have came together to help. A silver lining of the pandemic has been the eradication of homelessness, what the future holds – I’m not sure – but it has been great to see people not sleeping on the streets and occupying some of the city’s empty hotel rooms. 

The Simon Community

Donate to Simon Appeal


MCR – Pathways


I’ve been a volunteer mentor with the MCR Pathways programme for nearly four years. I meet a young girl at her school every week. Again, things are a little different during Covid – and we have recently managed to do some supervised online video chats, which has been fun. MCR has a focus on positive outcomes for the future of young people, which could involve staying on at school, going to college or university, looking at apprenticeships and job experience. It’s hugely rewarding. I was so nervous the first time I was due to meet my mentee. Would she like me? Would we get on? What would we talk about? And now four years later, she’s growing up fast, and I’m in awe of the young woman she’s becoming. I couldn’t be any prouder and I’m excited to see where her future takes her. I’ve learned so much from her. MCR Pathways says – two lives are changed by mentoring – this is true.




LEAP (Enhancing the Lives of Older People in Lanarkshire)

Leap is an organisation based in Cambuslang, Glasgow. I offered to help during the Covid-19 pandemic. They identified a need to further their reach and their remit – and they now offer a free personal shopping service to people in their area. I’ve been impressed by their organisation and how quickly they have set up this part of their operation. It’s very well organised with every detail carefully considered. I’ve helped with shopping and prescription deliveries and it has highlighted to me how many people in our communities are vulnerable and need help, and especially at the moment, where people are still being ‘shielded’.


Pancreatic Cancer Scotland / Pancreatic Cancer Action

Although I am not a volunteer, I’m constantly inspired by the volunteers I meet through the work I do for pancreatic cancer charities. Pancreatic Cancer Scotland (PCS) was born in 2010 when a group of volunteers comprising patients, carers, nurses and doctors got together to share knowledge and take action in the fight against the disease. Ten years later PCS has made huge strides and merged with another pancreatic cancer charity joining forces and a combined effort to make the 2020s the decade of change for pancreatic cancer. I’ve heard so many inspirational stories and witnessed the great efforts people go to to support the cause. From sponsored football matches, charity balls, runs, cycles, walks, theatre shows, cake sales and all manner of creative ideas. It’s very humbling, and all their efforts really do make a difference. 

Purple Perth

Pancreatic Cancer Scotland (PCS)

Pancreatic Cancer Action (PCA)

Manorview Hotels & Leisure Group

The Manorview Group has a charity ethos embedded into its culture. In the past three years their team has donated over £100k to various good causes. I’ve been lucky to have been involved in their charity committee. I have seen the team’s efforts grow and I have witnessed many creative ideas, along with a genuine passion, caring, enthusiasm and willingness to help and make a difference for others. It’s been inspiring to watch this grow and become part of a company culture where people are encouraged to care for others. The team get involved in everything from fundraising, organising events, donating time and raising awareness for organisations such as Scottish Autism, LAMH (Lanarkshire Association for Mental Health), SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health), Achieve More and When You Wish Upon A Star.

Busby Tea 2019 3

Read Manorview’s Charity News

Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT)

The GFT is a Glasgow institution. Again, this lovely cinema is sadly affected by Covid. I’ve been a volunteer usher at the GFT. This means being there for people and ensuring everyone is safe and happy while at the cinema. It’s a lovely community, with loyal customers and a great team of volunteers. I hope it’s able to open again soon and when it’s safe to do so.

2014 Commonwealth Games

The 2014 Commonwealth Games was a great time for the city of Glasgow. I volunteered at swimming at Tollcross where I was part of the press and media team. I met many lovely people and found myself hooked on a sport I knew virtually nothing about. 

Commonwealth Games


ChildLine is probably the organization that started my volunteering pathway. I was a volunteer telephone counsellor for a number of years, in the early 90s – before social media was a ‘thing’. I’m sure much has evolved in ChildLine during the years. They will have adapted to the many changes that technology has brought, its many advantages and also the disadvantages with increased risks and pressures on young people.


Vol week Logo colour large


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The Railway People – Eva Kor & Raymond Meade, at the CCA, Glasgow – June 2017

Ray and Eva meeting

Eva Kor and Raymond Meade meeting in Krakow.                                                                                  Pic Credit – Mark Wilkinson for The Railway People

It’s an unlikely pairing. A quiet and thoughtful Glaswegian rock star who tours the world with Ocean Colour Scene and a feisty woman in her 80s, who’s a survivor of Auschwitz. They get together, and make a record. The result is a four track CD called The Railway People.
I had the privilege of meeting Raymond Meade and Eva Mozes Kor at an event at Glasgow’s CCA, where they were speaking about their record collaboration.
FullSizeRender 29.jpg
This story also featured in an excellent BBC Scotland documentary called The Railway People, which was beautifully and sensitively put together by Demus Productions.
Raymond has been to Auschwitz and Birkenau. The former Nazi concentration camps are  located in the town of Oswiecim, around 30 miles west of Krakow in Poland. Raymond has visited the camps five times.



On his last visit he penned lyrics and a poem, but he had a idea, which led him to reach out to Eva. He emailed her and asked if she would read and record the poem How Could It Be? And to read this at Birkenau in a bid to capture the essence of the words. He didn’t expect a reply.
But when you hear Eva speak – you get the impression this woman is curious, and she was intrigued. Eventually, the two met in Krakow and started their journey. There is a bond between them which is palpable when you see the two of them interact. There’s a mutual respect and a genuine fondness.



What Eva has faced in her life is unimaginable. When she arrives in Birkenau, she’s with her twin sister Miriam. They are 10. Dressed in matching dresses, the identical twins catch the eye a Nazi officer.  He asks their mother – “Are they twins?” She hesitates “Is that a good or a bad thing?” He assures her it’s a good thing, and she confirms that they are. Their fate is decided.
The family is split up. The twin sisters are taken to Dr Joseph Mengele, named the Angel of Death. They never see their parents, father Alexander, mother Jaffa or sisters Edit and Aliz again. The family perished in the gas chambers of Birkenau. The twin sisters survived but suffered torturous experiments and treatment at the hands of Mengele.



In Glasgow – Eva talked about loss and said we always remember the last time we saw someone. It’s true. I remember my dad smiling and waving from his hospital bed as I left, fully expecting to see him the following day. He had a heart attack a few hours later, and I wasn’t there, but I still see his face as I left. It’s sad – but not traumatic.
Contrast that with 10-year-old Eva, and the tears, screaming, anguish and fear, that ensued as families were ripped apart. We can’t imagine how that final scene must haunt her. She’s revisited the scene, the railway platform at Birkenau many times. Astonishingly she found the courage, strength and compassion to forgive.



The path to forgiveness has been a long one. Eva talked about the time she met a former Nazi officer, a Dr Hans Munch. And she liked him. She described him as “a bad Nazi but a good human being”. He stood outside the gas chambers while people inside were killed. A death certificate recorded one death to hide the large numbers of people murdered. Dr Munch had joined Eva at a conference in Boston. He then agreed to go to Auschwitz with her in 1995 to sign an affidavit which stated the truth.
Eva wanted to thank him for this act but struggled to find an appropriate Thank You card, so she wrote a letter.  That letter prompted her to write a further letter, to forgive the Nazi who caused so much terror and cruelty to Eva and her sister Miriam – Dr Joseph Mengele, who was dead by this point.
She read the letter to Mengele out loud on the railway platform at Birkenau. And in that forgiveness she found strength. The act of forgiving gave her power and control. She owned the forgiveness, it was her’s to give, and no-one could change it. It was a defining moment.
“I discovered I had one power. What I tell everybody is that you — any victim, any person hurt — you have the same power. You have the power to forgive. And what it does, forgiveness, has nothing to do with the perpetrator. It has everything to do with the way the victim feels.” Eva Kor

Ray and Eva - platform

Raymond and Eva at Birkenau. Pic Credit – Mark Wilkinson for The Railway People (Official)

The partnership and relationship between Raymond and Eva, transcends age, place, boundaries and cultures. There’s a willingness to engage, learn and to try and understand.
For Raymond’s part, he’s captured Auschwitz and Birkenau. I’ve also visited the former concentration camps. You cannot fail to be affected by what you see and feel. For me Auschwitz was horrific, but Birkenau hit even harder. While Auschwitz has the incredibly sad exhibits of what is left of the dead – the suitcases, piles of shoes, hair and spectacles – in Birkenau there is nothing. It’s empty. It’s a vast open space and you’re left to fill it with your imagination and emotions. The atmosphere sinks into your bones, chilling you to the core. It’s eerie, haunting, incredibly sad, and silent.
Raymond’s song At The Top of the Stairs was written after he stood atop the stairs overlooking the train tracks which brought carriage loads of people, to their final destination, and death.



In 1995, Eva opened the CANDLES (Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors) Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute, Indiana, where she now lives. It sees around 7,000 school children every year. She also lectures all over the world and the 82-year-old works tirelessly to educate people and to try to stop the atrocities of the past being repeated.


Quote displayed at Auschwitz

Photo from the Candles Museu

Photo from the Candles Museum

Eva’s sister Miriam died in 1993 from a lung illness that Eva attributes to the tests that Mengele performed.
A radio documentary was made telling the story of how the project came to life. This documentary has been awarded the New York Festivals Bronze Winner for the World’s Best Radio Programmes.
Eva Kor is an amazing and inspiring woman and credit also goes to Raymond Meade for his determination to bring this project to life and as Eva said, “for following what was in his heart”.
“My hope is that younger generations from every future era ensure that this place is never forgotten, never repeated and always recognised as a symbol of senseless violence”. Raymond Meade


Eva Kor at the CCA in Glasgow

Eva Kor at the CCA in Glasgow

“It’s important to stand up for what you believe in and make the world a better place”. Eva Kor

You can buy the album The Railway People for £10 from the The Railway People Website It features 3 songs and the extended radio documentary. There is also a 12 page colour booklet inside. All proceeds are being donated to the CANDLES Museum.

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Glasgow Wood Recycling, charity/social enterprise – showroom launch – February 2016


Peter Lavelle gave up his job as a social worker to found charity and social enterprise, Glasgow Wood Recycling – and he continues to help people – but in a different way.

Founded in 2007, the company not only gives old pieces of wood a new lease of life but people who may be struggling to get back into the job market, can also get a lifeline.

Glasgow Wood Recycling collects wood from all over Glasgow and surrounding areas. The wood is brought back to the workshop in the city’s South Street and lovingly crafted into gorgeous bespoke furniture, befitting of any designer home. They make an array of mirrors, coffee tables, shelves, chairs, benches and more. And there is a huge benefit to the environment as the amount of wood ending up in landfill is reduced.

“Bespoke, hand-crafted furniture. Ethically produced in Scotland”  Glasgow Wood Recycling


Previously employed as a social worker for many years, Peter continues to help people at Glasgow Wood Recycling through a 10 week programme called Making Wood Work – it’s where people are given a chance to train and to make progress towards employment. They get back into the workplace, learn vital skills and their confidence and self-esteem gets a huge boost. After the course many people go on and find full time employment.

Through word of mouth the company is thriving from their workshop space. They are rightfully proud of their work which deserves to be shown off – but they did not have the facility to do this – until now.


Now GWR have a showroom, a newly converted portacabin space which allows them to showcase examples of what they do. Buy or order a piece and know that it comes with a story. You’re saving a beautiful piece of reclaimed wood, protecting our environment and helping someone to find work. Plus the furniture is gorgeous, exceptionally well made, sturdy and made to last forever.

Making Wood Work – Making a Difference.

Peter joined the Making Wood Work programme in 2015. He said:

At Making Wood Work we were making things that customers would purchase, so it’s not like you are involved in pointless tasks. You are in an actual work environment and you are expected to meet certain standards. This was good for me, as being out of work for a while I needed a sense that I was working towards something useful.

The really good thing about this programme is that it doesn’t end after the 10 weeks as they are really motivated to progress their volunteers into work or further advancement through courses and I was really impressed by this. My confidence got the boost it needed and I learned new skills, and ultimately I found paid employment, which I am over the moon about.

Here’s a selection of images from Glasgow Wood Recycling open day and Showroom Launch – 26th February 2016.

Glasgow Wood Recycling, Unit 6, Barclay Curle Complex, 739 South Street, Glasgow G14 0BX

0141 237 8566

Useful links and follow:


Glasgow Wood Recycling Facebook Page

Glasgow Wood Recycling

Zero Waste Scotland  Inspiring change for Scotland’s resource economy

Glasgow Wood Recycling are members of the Glasgow Social Enterprise Network

Initiatives such as Making Wood Work are helped by Big Lottery Fund Scotland

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Filed under Charities, Charity, Glasgow, Scotland, Social Enterprise

Spotlight on: Glasgow band – Teen Canteen

Teen Canteen


TeenCanteen are a four piece girl band from Glasgow who make beautiful pop harmonies. Apart from sounding  great, what impresses me about this band is their ethos and social conscience.

They support Scottish Women’s Aid and run an event called The Girl Effect, the second of which, called The Girl Effect #2, was held at Mono, Glasgow in November 2015. It’s where they brought together an impressive collection of Scottish musicians, and asked each of them to sing two cover songs. The only proviso was that the song choices had to originate from female singers. Some of the choices were surprising and inspired. And all the money raised from The Girl Effect was donated to Scottish Women’s Aid.

Scottish Women's Aid Logo

At November’s Girl Effect #2 – a total of £2146 was raised, add the takings from the first event, and it amounted to a grand total of £5602.72 which TeenCanteen has raised for Scottish Women’s Aid. It’s impressive. Apart from raising a whooping amount for a worthwhile charity, The Girl Effect was a slick, well organised operation, backed by excellent Scottish musical talent and an entertaining night. It attracted the likes of Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Labour Leader, Angela Constance, Education Secretary, Zara Kitson, who is currently running for female co-convenor of Scottish Green Party, SNP MP Alison Thewliss and Annie Wells, Scottish Conservative & Unionist Candidate, who all arrived on the night to support the event.

To keep the night running smoothly there were a lot of bands and musicians to get on and off the stage, added to this, there was a raffle, which boosted some great prizes, and if you wanted to shine you could even get your face adorned with glitter.

The Girl Effect #2 Poster

The Girl Effect #2 Poster

The list of bands ensured there was something for everyone, from the gorgeous Cairn String Quartet, to the rock of Skies Fell and the spellbinding vocals of SAY (Scottish Album of the Year) 2015 winner Kathryn Joseph and the heartbreaking tones of Jo Mango, who sang the beautiful November by Azure Ray – a perfect choice for her.

Edinburgh based Broken Records, were joined on stage by two TeenCanteen members (Carla Easton and Sita Pieracinni) for a rendition of The Supremes’ Stop In The Name of Love.

The video clip below comes from BMX Bandits and Duglas T Stewart – who were also playing at this event. This shows TeenCanteen performing their own song, Honey, accompanied by the Cairn String Quartet.

Worth a special mention is Skies Fell – who performed an outstanding version of the Shakespears Sister hit Stay. The lovely Kathryn Joseph will always leave a room spellbound and her song choices included Call The Shots by Girls Aloud and I’ll Set You Free by The Bangles.

Rounding up the end of the night was the always popular BMX Bandits who sang That’s How Heartaches are made by The Marvelettes and It’s Gonna Take A Miracle by the Royalettes, the latter being sung by BMX Bandit Chloe, who is also part of TeenCanteen.

And TeenCanteen finished with some excellent song choices – Trouble by Shampoo, Waterfalls by TLC, I Know Where It’s At by All Saints and their own song Sister.

A cracking night from a band who show a great passion and conviction for what they do.



Buy their single Sister and 20p from each download goes towards Scottish Women’s Aid.

Download via: TeenCanteen Bandcamp Download

And they’ve got some live dates coming up. See them:

Sunday 17th January, 2016, 02 ABC, Glasgow, (afternoon show – 2.30pm), as part of Celtic Connections.

Wednesday 27th January, 2016, Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh, (afternoon show – 2.30pm) as part of Independent Venue Week.

Thursday 28th April, 2016, Summerhall, Edinburgh

Friday 29th April, 2016, CCA, Glasgow


Glasgow-based TeenCanteen formed in 2012. They are Carla Easton (lead vocals, keyboards), Sita Pieracinni (vocals, bass), Chloe Philip (vocals, guitar) and Deborah Smith (vocals, drums).

They describe themselves as “sticky cherry-cola kissed three part harmonies backed by talking toms and stomping beats in a new Wall of Sound”. Their debut single Honey, was mixed by Bill Ryder-Jones via Edinburgh Arts Collective Neu! Reekie! at the end of 2013.

See more at TeenCanteen Website

For more about Scottish Women’s Aid – see Scottish Women’s Aid Website



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Film Review – Hector, and a spotlight on homelessness

Hector Movie Poster

Quicker than a swirl of a lightsaber, the country has embraced the Dark Side. The hotly anticipated Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens has opened with gross earnings estimated to reach £1.3 billion. So on the weekend of the film’s release, I duly went out to the cinema – but not to see the fate of Han Solo – I went to see the heart-warming Hector, a film about a Glaswegian homeless man.

Hector is the directorial debut of Jake Gavin, known more for his photography skills. But on this showing, a bright film career beckons.

The film has already been hailed by some as the best Christmas movie this season. And this is a film that makes you count your blessings and instills a will to help those less fortunate than yourself. It’s not a shiny, sugary sweet fairytale but a story with a sharp gritty realism and grim settings.


We follow Hector’s journey, and he’s sensitively and expertly played by Peter Mullan. The Glaswegian actor is known for playing some down-right nasty characters. I only saw him in Sunset Song, just a few nights previous – where he was Chris Guthrie’s brutal father, a heinous hateful man with a heart full of demons. But here as Hector, Mullan shows an understanding and a softer touch. With a worn face, grey beard and with sometimes twinkly blue eyes, I would actually like to see him play a modern day Father Christmas in some kind of alternative festive story. But as Hector, he’s a man who’s been dealt a hard hand from life, and his back story unravels during his journey from Glasgow to a London homeless shelter to attend an annual Christmas dinner.

Hector Movie

The film is a stark reminder that for some people life cruelly snatches away those things we hold dear, and the phrase “there but for the grace of god, go I” springs to mind.

Hector and two of his homeless friends, joined by a dog called Braveheart, are sleeping where they can, in doorways, in toilets and under cardboard. There’s the everyday practicalities of being homeless, trying to keep clean, keep charge of your worldly possessions (thugs mug Hector and try to steal from him), and get access to medical help.

Then we join Hector on his journey. He’s suffering from ill-health, limping and using medication to keep pain at bay. There’s lots of motorway shots, as he hitches lifts, and we see the kindness of strangers. The high-vis jackets that “fall off the back of a lorry” and into the hands of the homeless, the church who gives him shelter and the cafes who feed him.

There’s the down points, as Hector tries to reconcile with his estranged family, after he “gave up on life” and disappeared for 15 years, and there’s also the fate and desperation of his homeless friends, Dougie played by Laurie Ventry and the young 18-year-old Hazel, played by Natalie Gavin.


When he gets to the London shelter we meet Sara, who works there, played by Sarah Solemani. She appears like an angel, a wonderfully kind, non-judgemental and humane character.


At the shelter we see various sides of homelessness, from the young boy, to a drop-out priest and an injured soldier, to the chancer-like Jimbo – played by Keith Allen – who turns in a good job in this role.

We don’t know their back story, but we still wonder what led them to where they are, and what their fate will be.

The men are treated with care and respect and receive the things we take for granted. Hot water, clean clothes, a bed and a hot meal. And I defy the hardest heart not to break down when a male choir sings a rendition of Abide with Me, to the men who sit quietly with their own thoughts.

This is a sensitively put together film which puts the plight of homelessness to the fore and challenges some perhaps pre-conceived perceptions.

It will also make you want to help others and I hope it leads to some charities receiving more help. There’s lots of great organisations around the country.

The Christmas appeal from  Glasgow City Mission has the tagline “Love Changes Everything” and you can donate £7 to give a homeless person a Christmas meal, while £22 will feed and support a homeless person for a month.

Social Bite is a great social enterprise café who help homeless people. Read more about them here –  Social Bite

and there’s still time to buy into the Social Bite Itison deal, it runs until 22nd December. Donate £5 to help feed a homeless person at Christmas and also help refugees in Europe.–3

I also love the good work of the Rucksack Project, where the Glasgow arm of this is organised by Lorna McLean. Thousands of rucksacks have been donated and delivered to help those in need.

See more at The Rucksack Project Glasgow who help many charities around the city and surrounding areas including the Simon Community Scotland

If only we could brandish a lightsaber and solve the world’s problems, in this universe and in any universe, no-one should be sleeping on the streets.

Peter Mullan interviewed by The Independent had this to say:

Your new film ‘Hector’ was out last week; ‘Star Wars’ was out this Thursday. That’s big competition. Why should we see ‘Hector’?

When it started off, Star Wars was about the little people taking on the Death Star and now it is the Death Star. So go and see little independent movies in protest against the Death Star. If you really want to help Luke Skywalker, go see Hector.

Read the full interview here: Peter Mullan interview – The Independent


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Filed under Charities, Charity, Film Reviews, Films, Glasgow Film Theatre, Scotland, The Rucksack Project

The Rucksack Project and The Invisibles

This is a late blog but it’s important, inspiring and relevant. It also highlights how social media can create a movement.

I found the Rucksack Project via a friend’s Facebook page. It made me curious and I checked it out. The idea was simple. Buy/find/donate an old rucksack – fill it with some essential items and bring it to a designated drop off point. It was being organised by Lorna McLean from Stepps near Glasgow.

Rucksack Project

Rucksack Project – Police Notice

There was a list of items and the drop off point was in Glasgow just before Christmas 2013. The rucksacks were then to distributed to homeless people around Glasgow. If you couldn’t make the day’s drop off point, there were plenty alternatives.

In this day and age, no one should be living on the streets without shelter, food or basic facilities. I also believe it’s much easier to end up in these situations than a lot of people may think. A case of “there but for the Grace of God go I”.

And although I worry about people sleeping rough, I also feel powerless. I buy a Big Issue and put some money in someone’s hat, but surely I can do more?

Someone who did more was Matthew White from Bristol. The story of how he founded the Rucksack Project can be found on the link below.

The Rucksack Project Website

The Rucksack Project has grown steadily, with 2013 showing huge amounts of success, helped by social media. And 2013 was the first appearance of the project in Glasgow after Lorna decided to organise it. She had no idea how successful it was going to become and where it would lead.

So along with my usual Christmas shopping I added items such as a sleeping bag and a warm fleece. I duly packed my rucksack and when I got to the drop off point on December 22nd, I was amazed by the amount of rucksacks and the steady throng of people that kept appearing throughout the day. Inside the drop off point, located in a small tenement building, there was a room full of rucksacks. In another room a group of people sorted through extra items such as hats, socks and shoes. There were even tins of dog food brought in for people’s pets.

People helping to sort through items at Glasgow's Rucksack Project

People helping to sort through items at Glasgow’s Rucksack Project

With not a Scrooge in sight, the true spirit of Christmas was captured in that building.Two friendly policemen also stopped by and joined in.

The Rucksack Project

Lorna and her team then had the task of making sure the rucksacks found their new owners. There was an amazing 4000 plus bags waiting to be delivered. The team lost count in the end.

The Rucksack Project

Lorna McLean – Glasgow Rucksack Project with some of the rucksacks

Because the response was so overwhelming and unexpected, the reach was widened and even more people were helped.

I contacted Lorna after the event and met up with her to speak about the project. I could see the overwhelming results and although there are successful Rucksack Projects running all through the UK, with a few others in Scotland (Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Falkirk etc), the response to the project in Glasgow surpassed them all.

Why? I asked Lorna. She just laughed, shrugged her shoulders and said she knew she would get a great response in Glasgow, but even she didn’t anticipate just how successful it would be.

In the lead up to Christmas, the rucksacks were taking over her house, as her home also became a drop off point. At one point she could hardly get up her stairs.

Matthew White, the founder of the Rucksack Project noted with interest the success in Glasgow. Although Lorna doesn’t have an answer, I suspect it may be partly down to Lorna herself. She has a good network and she is a lovely and welcoming person. And social media seemed to really take off around the project in Glasgow.

Other homeless charities have now also been speaking to Lorna, including the Glasgow Simon Community, Glasgow’s Marie Trust and the Glasgow City Mission.

The Marie Trust highlighted that help can be extended not only to the homeless but to the many other people in need. The increasing numbers visiting food banks demonstrate how vulnerable some people are becoming.

Then along came T in The Park and another excellent idea, again noticed via social media. Again the idea was simple – instead of leaving your sleeping bag at the campsite donate it to a homeless person.

This idea was run by an organisation called The Invisibles fronted by Dermot Hill, a railway maintenance man, who had often witnessed the plight of the homeless around railways.

Read their statement here:

The Invisibles

All in they collected around 1,100 sleeping bags, 500 from T in the Park revelers, around 75 from another collection point and 500 were also donated by Tangerine Fields, a private company who set up tents at T in the Park.

STV News on The Invisibles T in the Park Project

The Invisibles logo

Now Lorna says The Rucksack Project and The Invisibles are talking about meeting to discuss perhaps working together on some projects. And another Rucksack Project is also planned for this December.

All of the above highlights the possibilities. Social media makes connecting and promoting easy. If you have an idea you can create a movement and inspire others. Sometimes we need people like Matthew White, Lorna McLean and Dermot Hill to take up the baton and guide us there, but we can all join them.

One story from Lorna McLean stayed with me. During the Christmas drop-in day, a lady appeared with a bag to donate, but she clutched it tight to her, reluctant to let it go. Eventually she handed it over and explained it was her own bag which she used when she was homeless. Now she was passing it to someone else who needed it, to help them through a difficult stage. At one point perhaps that bag was her life. Now she was handing it over. Her life now back on track, maybe she was able to close that chapter but it was evident it was an experience that would always remain with her.

The Rucksack Project Glasgow Facebook Page

Image taken from  The Rucksack Project

Image taken from
The Rucksack Project


Filed under Charities, Glasgow, Scotland, T in the Park, The Invisibles, The Rucksack Project