Friday 3 November 2017

Operation Backpack is GO!


Local Homelessness Charity Launches ‘Operation Backpack’ appeal

Local homelessness charity, Emmaus Gloucestershire, is launching the ‘Operation Backpack’ campaign to help rough sleepers survive in the coldest months of the year and are looking for the community to get behind them by donating filled rucksacks for winter protection.

Emmaus Gloucestershire is a charity that provides a home and meaningful work to 31 people who have experienced homelessness. Chief Executive, Joe Feeley, says “We are working to end homelessness and enable people to get back on their feet. But for those who face nights on the streets this winter, clean, warm clothes are essential for both dignity and survival – we are inviting members of the public to help directly.”

Emmaus are inviting school groups, businesses, scout groups, guiding groups, families, individuals, work groups, groups of friends, to get together and donate rucksacks packed with essentials for living in the open, including thermal socks, gloves, hats, scarves, winter sleeping bags, waterproof sleeping mats.

Filled Backpacks can be dropped off at any Emmaus shop (Nailsworth, Stroud, Cheltenham, Gloucester), Monday to Saturday during opening hours, from now till March 2018, but there is also a planned drop off event for “Operation Backpack” at the Stroud Emmaus shop at 54 London Road, Stroud. It will take place on Friday, 1st December from 10am to 9pm. Take along your backpack – and maybe stick around to enjoy a performance by locally acclaimed Elvis tribute, Joe is Elvis, as part of the Stroud Christmas Goodwill evening.

Operation Backpack – Event Page

Shirley Billson, Marketing & Communications Coordinator, explains, “It’s really simple to take part.  Grab a rucksack and fill it with the items listed on our Facebook event page. If you buy lots of the items from charity shops, you can extend giving, as well as re-using and recycling in the best possible way.”

She adds, “Though we need more rucksacks for men, you might want to do a rucksack specifically for a woman -include sanitary product/wipes/hairbrush/hairbands/nappy sacks (to dispose of sanitary items), or someone specifically for a person with a dog – include dog food, a chew, a small toy. We’re equally grateful if you can just donate one or two of the suggested items. We also need pyjama for people who need hospital stays. Our initial target is 150 backpacks. With your help, we can achieve this.”

Operation Backpack – Event Page

Formerly homeless, Emmaus companion Mark, describes how it feels to be on the receiving end of a backpack, “You go from freezing to feeling ok again. A change of clothes is like changing your soul.”

Joe Feeley enthused “This is a truly collaborative cross county effort. We’re working with other charitable organisations to put the packs together and to distribute them. Pink and Blue Washkits have generously offered to finalise the packing of the bags and add their own wash kits. Gloucester City Mission and Cirencester Signpost will help distribute to rough sleepers in Gloucester and Cirencester and we are looking to work with other partners to reach each part of the county. If you’re a charitable organisation and you’d like to join the effort, please get in touch.”

He also invites locally based businesses to join in.  ”If local businesses are also able to contribute bigger items, such as winter sleeping bags and waterproof sleeping mats, that would help greatly.”

If you’d prefer just to donate money to Operation Backpack, text the message PACK17 plus the amount you’d like to donate, e.g. PACK17 £5, to 70070.


For further information on taking part, contact Shirley Billson on 07702 561950 or email