Read on, even if you did put clean undies on this morning: This is important.
Every year, during November, we collect money at ScandiKitchen café to buy a whole load of underpants. You see, as the nights get longer and colder, the homeless on the streets of London have an even tougher time than normal. While people are good at donating coats and scarves, trousers and jumpers, nobody ever donates underpants and socks. For good reasons too, mind you, but that doesn’t make the need for these items any less. We all need clean pants and socks. While we may smile and joke about the need for underpants, the fact remains: if you’re down and out, trying your hardest just to get through the night, feeling warm and comfortable all the way through suddenly means that much more.
Helle is a lovely Danish lady, living in West London. Every autumn she changes her name to The Pants Lady and starts asking people to send her socks and underpants. She does this tirelessly for months. The main shelter she works with is the The Shelter Project Hounslow for men (a registered charity – but excess pants and socks are distributed throughout other shelters in the capital, too).
‘This will be the 5th season of The Shelter Project Hounslow (TSPH). We always receive plenty of 2nd hand clothing but never – for good reason – any underpants or socks. And homeless men need that too, so a few years ago I started collecting via friends, on Facebook, via Scandinavian Kitchen (where staff gave up their tip jar to collect pounds for pants). I wasn’t quite sure how men I don’t know would react to a crazy lady handing them pants and socks at the shelter though… These are proud, clever men from a range of backgrounds and cultures who for various reasons have ended up on the street. And here I was – with my bulging bags of smalls – a change of pants, while they try to change their lives.
The men would arrive at the shelter for the night and once settled in and warmed up, I’d drag one or 2 aside and hand them pants. Discreetly, quietly… Fast forward a couple of winter shelter weeks: The guys would arrive, sometimes with a new homeless guest in tow. Once the new guest was settled in, they’d drag him over to me saying: “You’ve got to meet PantsLady – she’ll sort you out.” And so literally hundreds of pairs of pants were handed out over 4 months. Each time, I’d often have to explain that there was no charge for pants. They were free, new, clean and donated by strangers. It’s “only pants and socks” – it’s never going to change anyone’s life, but it broke an often down cast atmosphere of hopelessness, loneliness and homelessness for these guys. It made a difference and it’ll make a difference again this year. It’s only pants and socks, but everyone deserves a clean pair.’
We’ll be collecting for underpants at the café throughout November. We call it ‘A pound for pants’ because we can get a pair of pants for a quid (in some shops). Pop your change in the box by the till – the staff give up their tips for these weeks and we (ScandiKitchen) match pound for pound what is put into the box.
You can also mail or delivery your (new, wrapped) underpants to us and we’ll make sure they get to the Shelter (post pants to ScandiKitchen Underpants Appeal, 61 Great Titchfield Street, London W1W 7PP). If you have any questions for Helle the Pants Lady, you can contact her on this email: PantsLady@virginmedia.com
Thank you for supporting this cause
Bye for now
The Kitchen People