Donating birthday cash to help homeless

By Paige Freshwater

Most 21-year-olds splash their cash on a night on the town, but one Bootle woman is spending her birthday money on something more meaningful.

Student Lauren Anderson, 21, used her cash presents to buy ‘goodie bags’ to donate to the city’s rough sleepers.

Loading her bags full of snacks, clothing and other essential items, Lauren said she wanted to help those less fortunate than herself.

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Lauren on her 21st birthday (C) Lisa Madden

She said: “I just didn’t want to waste the money I had received like [I do] every birthday. I wanted to spend it on something that I could remember buying.

“I was wondering what I could do to help the people I see in town everyday on my way to university. One day my sister said that giving people the food that you had brought for yourself while shopping can help. So I thought about doing a bag full of essential items and it just snowballed from there.”

Spending around £200 on the goodie bags, Lauren handed them out to the city’s rough sleepers and donated some to a local coffee shop that works to help homeless people.

“I made around 10 to 15 bags. The bags are waterproof, which is where it [the idea] started, so they would have somewhere to store their items. Often people have stuff stolen from them while they sleep rough,” said Lauren.

“I just started thinking of stuff that could be kept in the bags and I decided that warm clothing for the winter would be best. It is freezing and at least it [the clothes] could stay dry.”

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The goodie bags for the city’s rough sleepers (C) Lauren Anderson

Earlier this month, a rough sleeper met his death after temperatures plummeted below freezing across Merseyside. He was found in a city centre gateway and rushed to hospital following concerns for his health.

According to Liverpool City Council, the number of rough sleepers has increased from eight in 2014 to 15 in 2015.

Lauren added: “It just broke my heart to see people in need and people just walking past them while they are sleeping rough. This way I was able to spend my birthday money wisely rather than on the junk I usually buy.

“The stuff inside was from a range of shops and I included thermal hats, scarves, gloves and socks. As well as water and snacks. They didn’t cost too much per bag to make and it is something that I want to do regularly. I hope to make it a birthday tradition.”

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