Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), the UK’s largest rail network, has joined forces once again with a variety of its regional charity partners this Christmas, to provide support for the homeless as the winter frost takes hold and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to heighten the homelessness crisis in the UK.
One of the regional charity partners involved in the campaign is Centre 33, who provide crucial support for the homeless in St Albans.
The Great Sock Appeal launched on December 1, in time for Giving Tuesday, across the nation in a bid to support those that need it the most.
Spearheaded by GTR, the collection is returning for a second year after the successful 2019 launch that saw 4,172 pairs of socks donated by customers and colleagues to seven different partnerships across the GTR network.
This year, the campaign is particularly poignant for GTR. One of the operator’s colleagues is speaking out for the first time about his experience of being homeless, with the hope of breaking the stigma associated with homelessness and to encourage more people across the country to get behind the campaign, donate and support their local community during this truly testing time.
Speaking publicly for the first time to tell his inspirational story, Allen Howe, who is now a Senior Contracts Manager at Govia Thameslink Railway, working across the Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick Express networks, said:, “I know all too well the hardship and danger facing homeless people this winter, having spent many months on the streets myself after suffering abuse as a child and being forced out by my stepmother soon after my 16th birthday.
“Although I could’ve easily just given up, I knew I had to keep on pushing to try and get myself out of the situation. I went on to spend 14 and a half years working for the local council developing initiatives to support the homeless, as well as later working for the NHS before moving to GTR. I have turned my life around and now have two daughters that I absolutely adore. Don’t be too proud to ask for help – there are ways to get you out of whatever situation you may be facing.”
Often overlooked as an unimportant item, for those sleeping rough a pair of socks is essential for keeping feet warm and dry.
Without them there is great risk of blisters, fungal infections and even trench foot.
This basic item of clothing helps to keep feet healthy, maintain good circulation and even manage diabetes.
Steve White, Chief Operating Officer at GTR said: “Christmas is a time for giving, and all it takes is one pair of socks, less than the price of a coffee, to improve the life of a homeless person this winter. We want to thank our customers, colleagues and local communities for their wonderful support for those in need.”
The appeal will end on Friday, December 11.
To find out more and donate go to crowdfunder.co.uk/great-sock-appeal
Picture credit: Peter Alvey