The Invisibles are a small independent charity initiative committed to helping homeless people and homeless charities in Glasgow.We formed after our founder, Dermot Hill wrote an internet blog on the issue of homelessness in early February, highlighting the homeless problem in Glasgow and asking for help on this from fellow Glaswegians.
Dermot works on railway maintenance and has been very concerned at the plight of Glasgow’s homeless, after seeing them nightly while he has been working night shifts on the railway lines.After Dermot put out his appeal, the group arranged their first meeting a few nights later, to discuss what we, as a group could do to help the homeless of Glasgow.
We then had a series of meetings in the Parkhead Housing Association over the next few months where we could decide how we as a group could help the homeless.All members of the group have put a lot of time and effort into the initiative and come from all different backgrounds, walks of life and have all brought different skill sets.
The group decided we would not collect money as we wanted to help the homeless through direct action – getting what they need and helping to deliver it to them, and the best way to do this would be to collect sleeping bags and clothing to donate to Homeless Shelters and Homeless Charities in Glasgow, such as The Wayside Club, The Glasgow City Mission, The Marie Trust and the Simon Community.
The reason why we named our group The Invisibles has a double meaning:
- The first meaning being that homeless people are regularly ignored by the public on the street, and society as a whole and we wanted to highlight this and help them.
- The second meaning is that our group members, while wanting to help the homeless, also wanted to remain invisible in the background, preferring any publicity given to our group rather than highlight us, highlight our collections, campaigns, donators and the homeless charities we help.
Our first collection was at the Church of Nazarene in Parkhead on Easter Sunday, where we collected 25 bags and assorted clothing items, which we then donated to The Wayside Club.
At the start of July, homeless barriers were erected in St Vincent Lane in Glasgow which caused great concern within the group, as they stop homeless people, who can’t find a shelter or a place to stay at night, from being able to sleep rough.Glasgow City Council gave the owner of the building involved in erecting the barriers seven days to take them down, but after some action by fellow Glaswegians, they were taken down the next morning.
The Invisibles group decided, on the Tuesday before T In The Park, to start a campaign to appeal to the T In The Park goers to ask them to donate to us their used sleeping bags when they were returning from the festival the following Sunday and Monday, so we could clean them and pass them onto Homeless Shelters and Charities to give to homeless people.The group appealed through our Twitter and Facebook accounts and contacted every Scottish newspaper, media and music outlet in Scotland and gave press interviews to highlight the sleeping bag appeal, from which we had an excellent response to, in both social media and the press.
Many people volunteered to help us in distributing flyers to the people going to T in The Park on the Wednesday and Thursday prior to the event and also to help us collect the sleeping bags on the Sunday and Monday when the festival finished.After a slow start on Sunday night, due to it mostly being day-trippers leaving the festival, we had an overwhelming response to our collection from the T in The Park goers coming back on the Monday morning, with around 500 bags collected, roughly another 100 donated from the collection point which we got arranged just outside the site and 500 in total being donated from Tangerine Fields, a private company who set up tents at T in The Park.Roughly 1,100 sleeping bags were collected, enough at estimates to keep the homeless in Glasgow warm for a year.
Quite a percentage of these bags had to be washed, and the following Wednesday we had more volunteers giving up more or their free time to sift through the uncleaned bags and take them away individually to wash them.The bags were washed, collected and were given to the homeless shelters in Glasgow and some to the Hamilton Soup Kitchen.The Wayside Club in Glasgow was fully stocked up with sleeping bags and The Glasgow City Mission had limited space left to take more sleeping bags.
We have built up and maintain a working relationship with The Glasgow Homelessness Network, – who release the numbers for the homeless in Glasgow and liaise with the Private and Public sector homeless charities and initiatives. They give us information and data regularly on how we can help out other Shelters and Homeless Initiatives in Glasgow.With this information, we have now been speaking directly to the main Glasgow Homeless Charities and Initiatives – The Glasgow City Mission, The Wayside Club, The Marie Trust and The Simon Community – To find out on a regular basis what they need and what the homeless or Glasgow need to be provided with.
We have now donated around 200 sleeping bags to the Simon Community for their Outreach program which gives the sleeping bags directly to homeless people sleeping rough in Glasgow.We have also also provided 60 sleeping bags to the Glasgow City Mission with sleeping bags for their indoor Winter Night Shelter and will be donating 170 quilts very soon.
The Invisibles Winter Collection Appeal was started in early September, to provide Sleeping bags and suitable winter clothing such as Hats, Scarves, Wooly Hats, Wooly Jumpers, Socks, Underwear and Old Boots for the homeless of Glasgow, for when it gets near winter time, when they need our help the most.Volunteers arranged clothing collections with their families, friends, schools and workplaces for us, while The Parkhead Housing Association, Easterhouse Community Church and Molly’s Cosy Cafe in Shawlands served as our drop off points, where Glaswegians could take their Winter Clothing Items for us to collect.
We had a massive response, so much so, that we do not need any more clothes at the moment as we are full with donations, ready to be delivered soon to the Homeless Charities in Glasgow and the some of the surrounding areas.We also took part in the Glasgow Rucksack Project 2014 Appeal at the Gorbals Legal Aid Centre on Sunday December 7th, where roughly 8000 Rucksacks were collected, doubling their total of 4000 in 2013, with many Mens and Womans’s clothing items, Sleeping Bags, Food and Toiletries collected in the Rucksacks, going directly to the Glasgow Homeless charities and straight to help the Homeless of Glasgow.
As a result of the Rucksack Project, aided by our collection and by many others in the City, The Glasgow Homeless Charities are now full until after new year, an excellent achievement by all involved and showing again the excellent generosity and warm hearts of the people of the City of Glasgow.
The Invisibles are pleased to announce we are running the Glasgow Rucksack Project 2016, passed on from the excellent Lorna McLean and hope it will be an ever bigger success next year and all volunteers are more than welcome to attend and help.We are also looking into starting a T In The Park campaign earlier next year, which with earlier planning, we are hoping will be even more successful than this summer’s one.
In the next few weeks, we will be looking to volunteers to help sort through the remainder of our Invisibles Winter Collection Appeal, if you are interested, please contact us on our Facebook and Twitter pages.
If you would like to know more about the group, or to help with future collections and appeals, or or if you are a Local Business in Glasgow and you would like to act as drop off points for us in future appeals, or to provide much needed storage space to our group, you can find out more about us and also contact us at our twitter handle @Invisiblesthe and our Facebook Page See The Invisibles.