Winter Wonder

05 December 2017 | Liz Bowen

At this time of year, headlines vary from the festive niceties like the latest Christmas ads, food trends, gift guides and whether or not this Christmas will be white, to the very real issue of loneliness during the festive period and those who spend the cold nights without a home to go to.

At Christmas – actually, at any time of the year – nothing says ‘charity’ like genuinely caring about people, so a huge big kudos to Vicki Jones and staff at The Community Cwtch charity shop in Gowerton, Swansea. After being inspired by similar schemes elsewhere, Vicki and her team took their wares to the streets so homeless people have easy access to warm clothing this winter.

Items, including coats and scarves, have been tied to railings and lampposts throughout the city each accompanied by a note reading; “If you need me take me! Please don’t steal me!” with the name of the charity shop underneath.

It was hoped the clothing would reach the people who really need it, specifically those who can’t get to shelter or can’t afford to go into a charity shop. Within hours of the clothes appearing, photos were shared across social media, praising the move.

Good PR isn’t always about shouting the loudest. Getting your name out there subtly, while doing something that genuinely benefits others is about as high up the good PR ladder as you can get and for a team that spends their working day benefitting The Autism Directory, it’s only fitting they should be in the news for demonstrating that it’s not just a job. Charity really does come from the heart.

However, it’s not all good news. In what has come to be a bad PR move, staff at Swansea’s Quadrant shopping centre removed items of clothing which had been left at the centre.

The manager of the centre explained that security was a factor and as the group hadn’t asked permission, they needed to be careful. While I can accept these are genuine concerns, you wonder how much damage can be done with a fleece and a raincoat?

Perhaps I’m being naïve, but at the time of year when giving is the theme of the season, it does seem a little harsh. However, credit where credit is due, the items have now been donated by the shopping centre to a homeless charity where hopefully they will reach those that need them.

Speaking of homeless charities, Shelter Cymru, has praised the work of The Community Cwtch team, which not only reinforces the fact that what they are doing is a good, no, great thing, it’s also just adding to the fantastic PR that they’ve already received.

Well done to Vicki and the team for being so charitable at Christmas. It’s certainly a lesson for us all.