All for a hood cause! Free coat exchange set up in Stoke Newington Library for the needy (and cold)

Trail blazers: The first coats on the rail, courtesy of Five Star Dry Cleaners. Picture: Rachel Murr

Trail blazers: The first coats on the rail, courtesy of Five Star Dry Cleaners. Picture: Rachel Murrell

A free “coat exchange” set up in Stoke Newington Library has proven a roaring success – and it’s all for a hood cause.

The idea is simple enough: put up a clothes rail with a sign asking people to drop off their unwanted jackets. On the same sign, invite anyone who feels they need a coat to take one.

It’s the brainchild of scriptwriter Rachel Murrell, though like all good authors she borrowed the idea. After seeing a similar scheme in Colchester on the news, she thought: “Yes, we could do that.”

Rachel, who lives in Stokey, told the Gazette. “We set it up with one rail and after a week it was so squashed we couldn’t access the stuff, so I had to get a second rail.

“It’s actually turned out to be a lovely place – it’s warm and dry and well lit.”


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So far more than 50 coats have been donated, and 40 or so have already gone to new homes.

Rachel was full of praise for Mustafa Tecimer from Five Star Dry Cleaners in Stoke Newington Church Street, who was the first person to get involved.

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“I often talk to Mustafa about how people book in cleaning and never collect it, and I knew he had stuff he could donate,” she explained.

“I think he probably donated 20 – plus a load of coat hangers.”

The clothes aren’t just for homeless people. Anyone who can’t afford a warm coat or struggles with the cost of living is welcome to help themselves.

Now Rachel wants to see others following suit (or denim, or duffel, or any other types of jacket).

“I’m really keen people see how easy it is and how much of a difference it makes for people,” she said, “so they can set one up themselves on the other side of Hackney.”

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