Hackney Community Closet supports hundreds of families

Krista Brown set up Hackney Community Closet in December last year. 

Krista Brown set up Hackney Community Closet in December last year after seeing the impact the pandemic was having on families. - Credit: Hackney Community Closet

Hackney Community Closet, a children’s clothing, equipment and toy bank, has supported 193 families since it began in December.

The initiative helps address inequality in the borough by matching people in need with donations.

Krista Brown, who runs the project with a small group of volunteers, said: "I saw that there was a surge of food banks and hygiene banks [but] nobody seems to really think about clothing,”

She kicked it off in December with a 100 Gifts for 100 Kids campaign which saw 211 gifts given out to 72 families. 

Krista was prompted to set up the project when she saw the "immense impact" the pandemic was having on families. 

She said: “Their lives changed overnight, and they had to adapt whatever their situation.

"Families have been under immense pressure - financial, home-schooling, coping with life and a pandemic plus trying to maintain their mental health.”

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Reflecting on Covid one year on, Krista's message is a positive one: “I’ve seen people step up and help each other this year - community having unity again - a real surge of kindness which has helped families out with whatever they need help with.”

Hackney Community Closet donations.

The community closet helps address inequality in Hackney by matching people in need with donations. - Credit: Hackney Community Closet

Families in need are referred to Hackney Community Closet, who then call out for donations of essentials such baby milk or a cot.

Krista added: “I am so grateful to everyone that donates because without them donating all this stuff we could never get it out into the community.”

The project is supported by Volunteer Centre Hackney, and grassroots project Our Place has provided a unit free of charge for the group to store donations.

As lockdown restrictions ease, there are plans to open the unit each Friday so people can bring along anything they have spare.

The project has also worked to celebrate amazing women in the community by holding a "Mum of the Year Awards" and giving away Mother's Day hampers. 

“When we give stuff to people, in all honesty, it's a such emotional experience that I burst into tears,” Krista said.

As well as benefitting the local community, the project is a sustainable venture, since items that may have ended up in landfill have a second lease of life.

A February campaign, Boxes for Bambinos, saw more than 200 bin bags of items donated in just two weeks.

Follow the community closet on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.