Bags packed to help homeless

An Oxford woman is donating backpacks full of essentials to tackle the city’s homeless crisis.

Rachel Barrett, 21, of Kidlington, organised the Give Back with a Pack GoFundMe campaign to provide backpacks filled with vital supplies for rough sleepers and has already received £50 towards her £250 goal.

Rachel, who works part time as a receptionist, said: “I have some time to spare in the afternoons and thought why not use it do things to try and help people?

“I saw a post on Facebook of a young boy who was giving backpacks full of essential items and food to the homeless community in his area, and thought it would be a really good idea to bring to our city.

“I have ordered three backpacks and will soon be filling them with items to give away to the homeless community in Oxford city centre.”

Among the items are socks, hand sanitiser, soap, toothbrush and paste, lip balm, a comb, nail clippers, plasters, sanitary products, tissues and a washcloth.

The backpack will also contain food such as a granola bar, a bag of nuts and dried fruit, instant noodles and porridge, crisps, cookies, bottles of water and disposable cutlery.

The fundraiser follows Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision not  to back Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran’s campaign to scrap the “Dickensian” Vagrancy Act 1824.

Ms Moran, who presented the repeal to the House of Commons on Wednesday last week, said: “I am disappointed that the Prime Minister won’t back my campaign to change the law to end the criminalisation of rough sleepers. I’ll be keeping up the pressure on the Government and will continue the fight.”

Oxford City Council provided emergency shelters for rough sleepers earlier this week due to below-zero overnight temperatures.

Rachel has also signed up to The Good Neighbour Scheme to support vulnerable elderly people.

She added: “I think we need to take more care of our vulnerable people and help in any small way we can.

“It only takes one person to make a big difference to someone’s life.”

Donations can be made at www.gofundme.com/givebackapack

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