With the festive season fast approaching, Worsley Rotary Club is again appealing for participants in its annual Reverse Advent Calendar collection.

The scheme hopes to prevent any homeless person on the streets this Christmas from going without some essential items they need to get by.

The idea of the Reverse Advent Calendar is that, instead of taking something out of an advent calendar every day such as a piece of chocolate, an essential item is put into a bag or container. The month’s worth of items will then be distributed to local charities supporting homeless people across Salford and Manchester.

Items in demand include toiletries, cosmetics, socks, gloves, underwear, sanitary products for women and food items such as cereal bars.

Tony Clayson, President of the Rotary Club in Worsley, said: “Light things that can be carried – because unless you go on the streets and meet people living like that you don’t realise; they have to carry everything with them. So, the items are essentials that you and I would take for granted that they cannot easily access.

“People have this myth that individuals in the community living on the street don’t have manners and don’t respect each other, but actually I would say it’s the opposite.

“People who unfortunately find themselves in this situation aren’t treated well by some members of the public, but they all respect each other.”

This year has been life-changing for everyone, with even more people out of work than usual as a result of the pandemic. However, this has inspired people so far to be more considerate of those in need – the outpouring of support that has been seen so far is described by Tony as phenomenal.

Copyright permission granted by Tony Clayson

He said: “Interestingly, because all of us are feeling very isolated in our normal lives, we are sensing that in the community, people in their normal lives are more wanting to help and support people living a homeless existence.”

To ensure donations can take place in a Covid-secure place, the usual drop-off points are not in use. Instead, the Rotary Club is relying on individuals from different groups to be collection points.

“Because of Covid, our collection points are a network of people signed up to Rotary in Worsley to fulfill this role and comply with the Covid processes for safe collection.”

Copyright permission granted by Tony Clayson

While the festive season brings about kindness and an inspiration to give, that may dry up by the time January hits. Unfortunately, homelessness is a problem that is not going to go away after Christmas – it is going to get worse over the next twelve months as the pandemic continues to develop and the real fallout of the measures seen this year become clear.

Schemes such as the reverse advent calendar have incredible results and bring so much joy to the homeless members of society. But as a community it is time to look further than the season of giving, to be considerate to one another; whether an individual is homeless or not, everyone deserves to have their basic human rights supported – all year round.

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