Advent Day 26: Young people raise awareness of homelessness

A group of young people have helped make 40 blankets out of recycled crisp packets to raise awareness about homelessness.

The Mini Youth Group at Dalmuir Barclay Church in Dalmuir near Clydebank in West Dunbartonshire collected around 3,000 wrappers which were opened up and ironed together to fashion polythene lined waterproof covers.

The project captured the imagination of the wider community and it is hoped that it will also raise awareness about the environment and climate justice.

Two people holding up a blanket made from crisp packets
Matthew Kennedy and Millie Simonis show one of the blankets fashioned out of recycled crisp packets.

The group, which has around 20 members, aged between 8 -18, usually holds a fundraising event to help people who are homeless but COVID-19 restrictions prevented them from doing so this year.

Gillian Graham, Children, Young People and Family Worker at Clydebank Waterfront Parish Church linked with Dalmuir Barclay Church, said: "They are a wonderful bunch of young people and the project is recognition that they have empathy and compassion for people for whom life is not plain sailing.

"Every year we hold a fundraiser before Christmas to help people who are homeless.

"Last year, the children and young people took part in the Wee Sleep Out which saw them staying overnight in the church to raise money for Social Bite.

"They were unable to take part this year due to COVID-19 restrictions but still wanted to do something to help raise awareness.

"The Mini Youth Group have been focussing on plastic pollution at the time and given crisp wrappers take 80 years to decompose, it was a great project to get involved in."

Empathy and compassion

Mrs Graham, who did all the ironing herself, said the project was an example of great team work between the youth group, members of both congregations and the wider community, notably small businesses who donated sheets of polythene.

She added that Rev Dr Ruth Morrison, minister of the linked charge, and pastoral assistant, Lorraine Wilson, were a great support and encouragement.

Mrs Graham said: "Some of the young people gave a presentation on the project during an online service and many people were watching and spread the word.

"This has led to a domino effect as other groups are now getting in touch and wanting to help which has sent out a great message to the Mini Youth Group about the power of community."

The blankets, which bear messages like God Bless and Take Care, have been given to the Lodging House Mission in Glasgow.

People who use the charity's services are currently all in accommodation so they will be made available for use during outdoor support activities next summer when restrictions allow.

L-R - Gillian Graham and Claire Herbert DCS

Chaplain, Claire Herbert DCS, a Church of Scotland deacon, said "We have received the blankets as a gesture of solidarity with people affected by homelessness.

"Each of them represent people who want to raise awareness about this issue and help improve understanding about what is going on.

"The blankets have a message from the young people letting our guests know that they are important and thought of at this time.

"They are a colourful patchwork which demonstrates the care and compassion Glasgow is renowned for - people make Glasgow."

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