The vinnie pack is a pack with cold weather items for rough sleepers and it includes toiletries, hat, gloves, socks and a thermal blanket.
Westminster Central Council have bought enough stock to provide 10.000 Vinnie Packs to people who are homeless or spending the principal part of their day on the streets this winter. Each pack contains cold weather essentials including a hat, gloves and socks which are all thermal, an emergency foil blanket, a full size tube of toothpaste, toothbrush, pen and information card.
Members of the public are invited to sponsor Vinnie Packs at a suggested donation of £3 per pack which covers the cost of the contents and Westminster CC is appealing to as many parishes and diocesan newspapers as possible to spread the word that donations are needed. They are reliant on donations coming in to ensure that they have enough funds to invest in stock next year.
The scheme started in November 2011 when the Central Council agreed to invest enough money to make up 1,000 packs and they were ready for distribution within three weeks. At the time, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster said: “This is an excellent idea. I know that sometimes people are reluctant to make a donation of money to homeless street sleepers. I am sure they will welcome being able to give a ‘Vinnie Pack’ as a way of helping people living on the streets of London. I thank the St Vincent de Paul Society for this imaginative initiative.”
Five thousand packs were funded by Westminster Central Council last year and these were distributed throughout England and Wales. When stock ran out, Arrow Communications in Surrey kindly donated enough money to allow a further one thousand Vinnie Packs to be made available.
Each Central Council wishing to distribute Vinnie Packs this winter is being asked to specify how many they would like. To keep distribution costs down, any Conferences or homeless projects who would like packs should contact their Central Council to find out the best way to collect the stock they need.
If any member, Conference or project would like to get hold of packs but aren’t sure who to contact within their Central Council, email VinniePacks@hotmail.com and the request will be passed on to the relevant person.
Donations are most welcome to ensure the longevity of the project. You can donate online via Virgin Money Giving or a donation can be sent to PO Box 72264, London SW1P 9EZ. Cheques should be made out to “SVP” and preferably marked “Vinnie Packs” on the back of the cheque.
The photo shows the Most Rev Vincent Nichols with a Vinnie Pack at the recent Festival Meeting at St Mary’s, Chelsea.