Back in early January, Iain Lane, a 35 year old Sunderland local, begun a Take One Leave One scheme offering free clothing to help keep Sunderland’s homeless and vulnerable warm. Iain gathered clothes donation after clothes donation to put together rails of clothes with the message ‘Take what you need and leave what you don’t’.

Initially Iain ran the scheme from the Independent Bar in Sunderland but with Lockdown coming to an end, he’s had to find a new home for his rails so the support can continue. Oasis Community Housing’s Basis Project in Sunderland is the perfect location, as those accessing the free clothing can also find support, showers and laundry facilities at the drop in.

Iain works in the entertainment industry as an electrician, but found himself out of work in 2020. “When the work dried up I was eligible for financial support through the government furlough scheme. I thought I may as well do something positive with my time rather than sit in my pants playing Fifa!” said Iain.

“Homelessness always upset me, then we had that really cold snap in January, so I put something out on Twitter to get warm coats and it really took off.”

The clothes donation was overwhelming. Ian continues, “Friends got involved, and friends of friends. Community outreach was really staggering.”

When younger people come for clothing, Iain makes sure they feel special, “I keep some of the Berghaus and things for the younger visitors. You know it’s important that 16 year olds get to look good and have nice stuff.

“These kids have probably been dealt a bad hand all their lives. If I can treat them nice they might feel better about themselves and things just might start to change”

It’s not just clothes that Iain has seen a need for. “People take food and feminine hygiene products. You’d be surprised at how much we go through and at how much people need.

“And some people just come for a chat, to talk to someone different. So you get to know people, you have your regulars.”

Iain will be at Park Road Church, Park Road, Sunderland from 10am to 1pm Monday to Thursdays offering free clothing to those in need.

Oasis Community Housing are thrilled to be able to accommodate TOLO and support Iain’s work, Dave Cawley who works at Basis Sunderland said, “It’s been great having Iain and his volunteers working out of Basis Sunderland and in partnership with the work that we do in the drop-in, supporting the homeless and vulnerable people in the city.”

Find out more at TOLO’s Facebook page.