Starting for the first time in Glasgow only last year, the Rucksack Project has already taken off in a big way. Organiser Lorna McLean presided over an event last Christmas that saw more than four-thousand rucksacks collected for Glasgow’s homeless.
This year, the Project is expecting as much as double that amount and close to eight-thousand people have already made pledges on the event’s Facebook page. For Lorna, the journey began when she came across a post online and inspiration struck.
“I saw a post on Facebook one day and I was just so inspired that I decided I would try and bring something together in Glasgow,” says Lorna. “I thought maybe twenty or so of us would get together and we’d go and visit some homeless people and try to do something kind for Christmas.
“That was probably in about September time and I set up the event page just before I went away on holiday. When I came back, it had just gone mad and so many people said they wanted to get involved.”
For Lorna, the response was incredible but raised a new set of challenges. How could she cope with organising such a massive event? In the end, she sought help from other homeless charities in Glasgow and fortunately, they were only too happy to lend a hand.
“I contacted the Simon Community and they very kindly helped me to pull together some other agencies,” she explains. “So many people got involved and it was absolutely inspiring to see so many people turn up to give something back.
Lorna believes that the festive time of year coupled with the charitable nature of Glaswegian people inspired such a huge number to take part last time. With more than eight-thousand people expected to offer their help this time around, Lorna says the response to the Project is a sign of people’s intrinsic good will.
“I think what’s really captured people’s imagination is the timing,” she says. “It’s Christmas and people want to give. It’s a natural thing to want to do. People are kind by nature. If you’ve got a good life, you want to be able to help someone else.
“I think it’s also a case of the big-hearted people of Glasgow as well though. We are very open hearted and we do want to share. I know that with the other Rucksack Projects around the country, nothing has come close to what’s been happening in Glasgow. Not even remotely close.
“Of course, it’s usually a case where people say something and then they don’t bother to actually turn up but actually we’ve found the very opposite. Last year, two-thousand people said they’d get involved and we ended up with four-thousand rucksacks. Maybe it’s just one person signing up but if they get their school or work involved then it can have a huge impact.”
Lorna is keen for even more people to get involved this year and aims to provide enough rucksacks so that homeless people in Glasgow can be given one all year round if they find themselves in need of assistance.
“If people want to get involved, they just need to get themselves a bag or a rucksack,” she says. “They fill it with specific items that will help people who are living rough. We’re looking for things like warm clothes, a decent quality sleeping bag, new underwear, unopened toiletries and possibly a flask.
“We all know we really shouldn’t have this situation going on in our city but it is going on and rather than just try to ignore it, we can all do our little bit to be kind to other people and help some of the most vulnerable in our society.”
For more information on the Glasgow Simon Community, please visit glasgowsimon.org