Drop off unwanted coats at rails to help keep homeless warm this winter, Londoners urged

 (Take One Leave One)
(Take One Leave One)

Londoners are being urged to leave their unneeded coats at clothing rails to help those in need in the capital stay warm this winter.

The annual Take One Leave One (TOLO) campaign is launching on Friday for its sixth winter in a row.

The drive sees clothes rails erected around the capital and elsewhere, where people can drop off warm clothing that can then be picked up by those hard up.

“The beauty of Take One Leave One is its simplicity," said Stefan Simanowitz, who set up the first TOLO rail outside a London church in 2018, and has since seen more than 150 rails spring up around the UK and even in the US and Canada.

"Anyone can set up a rail, anywhere, anytime and help those facing hardship stay warm this winter.

“Take One Leave One is not a charity or an organisation - it is an idea and one that anyone can adopt.

"Whilst it is shameful that giving out warm clothes should be necessary in one of the world’s wealthiest counties, it is also heart-warming to see how much kindness there is out there."

It is anticipated that dozens of TOLO rails will spring up this winter, and some are already in action.

 (Take One Leave One)
(Take One Leave One)

A TOLO winter coat rail has been outside Wesley’s Chapel in City Road, near Old Street, since November. Due to the effects of the cost-of-living crisis some rails, such as one in Brighton, now run all year round.

TOLO organisers send free banners reading “If you need, take one. If you can help leave one” to anyone who wants to set up a rail.

The rails are then filled and replenished with warm clothes by people living or working in the neighbourhood.

The campaign has gained the support of a number of homelessness charities, celebrities and public figures.

Speaking at last year's TOLO launch event, Baroness Jenny Jones described the campaign as "a wonderful initiative".

"You bring your surplus clothes down to the rail and anyone who is cold can help themselves to them," she said.

This winter's scheme will officially launch with the opening of a rail in Vauxhall subway, at an event from 1pm to 2pm on Friday.

More information about the initiative, and how to set up a rail, can be found on the TOLO website.