Island women head north to help the homeless


Two local women will travel to North West England this weekend on a mission to distribute essential items to those living on the streets this winter, assisted by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.

Valerie Miller, who runs Mother T’s community centre in Laxey, is currently collecting unwanted items of clothing, such as socks, underwear, hats, scarves and gloves, as well as sleeping bags and blankets, shoes, toiletries and sanitary products.

Valerie and her friend Rebecca Varley will embark on a day trip with a van, with plans to visit Liverpool, Blackpool and Lancaster to distribute the items to homeless people in need. They have partnered with a UK organisation so they drop off any excess items, should there be anything remaining at the end of the day.

Four years ago, Valerie spent three weeks living as a homeless person in England to gain an insight into the problem. She spent her days on the streets with a Dictaphone, gathering stories and information for a book she was writing about homelessness in the UK. She was particularly interested in discovering the backgrounds of individuals and how they came to live on the streets.

She commented: ‘Homelessness is a widespread issue in major cities such as Liverpool, particularly in the colder months, where temperatures drop and people and their belongings get wet. There is a frightening number of adults and children who don’t have a secure, permanent home – either living on the streets or in poor conditions. I often become overwhelmed with equal parts of gratitude for what I have and sadness for those who do not have their basic daily needs met.

‘Rebecca and I will spend the day giving out the items that have been donated, while speaking to people who are often ignored and may feel isolated. We are grateful for the free-of-charge ferry travel we have received from the Steam Packet Company, as well as the clothing, blankets and toiletries we continue to receive from our community.

‘We are also accepting cash donations to buy food and any specific items for individuals, which will be distributed on the day.’

Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward added: ‘We are pleased to assist with this great act of kindness and compassion, which will no doubt be well supported by local people too.’

Donations are welcome at Mother T’s in Laxey and at a collection point in Douglas. Pick-ups can also be arranged for those unable to deliver. Join the Facebook group ‘How Can We Help – Road Trip’ to get in touch, for more information and to keep up-to-date with their progress.

Rebecca and Valerie will travel to the UK to help the homeless