Pop-up in Hackney sells jackets and backpacks for rough sleepers

Charlotte Cramer and Scarlett Montanaro

Charlotte Cramer and Scarlett Montanaro - Credit: Archant

Generous-spirited people will be able to buy useful items for the homeless like backpacks and winter jackets in a pop-up concept store this November, which will then be distributed to rough sleepers in time for Christmas.

The shop in Kingsland Road, Haggerston, is named Crack and Cider – because its founders Charlotte Cramer, 24, from Shoreditch, and Scarlett Montanaro, 26, from Hoxton, spoke with a local rough sleeper who told them: “People don’t give me money because they just think I’ll spend it on crack and cider”.

The pair came up with the idea of the shop after being asked for money in a restaurant.

Scarlett said: “We didn’t know what to do for the best, because a lot of time you are told not to give cash to people on the streets. Even councils reinforce the idea that giving to rough sleepers contributes to their early death.

“We got talking about it and tried to solve that issue of what can we do.”

The shop which opens on Thursday, aims to give people a truly useful way of directly helping homeless people without giving cash, and will be selling the most useful items for rough sleepers to ward off the cold, like umbrellas, thinsulate hats, scarves, gloves, fleece jumpers, backpacks and military grade waterproof jackets.

Scarlett explained: “Doing research we have realised there is a hierarchy to homelessness depending what level you are at. We want to help people when there is no more help left, these are people who are sleeping on the streets rather than in hostels.

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“We know we are putting a band aid on the problem, but it’s such a complex vast issue. We just want to try and get as many things as possible out to people on the streets, the cold is the hardest thing to deal with.

“A man from San Francisco reached out to us on Twitter. He said he was on the streets for three winters. You talk about winters you survive and he said he survived three winters. He said we would have been an absolute godsend had we been around. It makes me really emotional to think about it.

“It’ll hopefully make their lives a little less rubbish to think that people have bought them gifts at Christmas time, and they haven’t just donated their old stuff.”

A debate about homelessness will be held in the shop on Wednesday with speakers Stephen Robertson, of The Big Issue Foundation, and architect James Furzer who has designed pods for the homeless.