Name one Secret Santa present that you’ve actually found useful. Chances are, you can’t, which is why this year it might be time to change tact.
With homelessness on the rise – figures released earlier this year found rough sleeping in England has increased for the seventh consecutive year – one social enterprise is asking people to buy a homeless person a Secret Santa gift this year, rather than splashing out on tat that will inevitably end up in the bin.
Linkey, founded by siblings Josh Adley and Natasha Langleben, is asking members of the public to buy a £12 Christmas pack which will include essential items such as: a warm hat, gloves, socks, hand-warmers and – a little something to spread some festive cheer – chocolates.
“This Secret Santa gift is perfect for office colleagues or friends and family,” Natasha told HuffPost UK. “You can provide items that are really going to benefit homeless recipients across the winter whilst also showing them that people really care.”
People who purchase the packs can also leave a personalised note which will be attached to their gift to “help give some Christmas cheer to someone who really needs and deserves it”.
The Christmas pack can be ordered on Linkey.org.uk from today and will be distributed directly to homeless people living on the streets and in shelters throughout winter.
“This is one present that won’t be returned or re-gifted, but may make a lasting difference to someone in need of some real Christmas cheer and compassion,” Natasha added.
In February this year, Linkey asked the public to show “a different kind of love” ahead of Valentine’s Day (14 February) by shunning a romantic bouquet or meal out in favour of an £8 Valentine’s pack for the homeless. The campaign was hugely successful, resulting in 800 packs being purchased from the site.
The siblings run the social enterprise in their spare time while juggling full-time roles: Josh works for a production company and Natasha is a social worker.
They were inspired to set up the non-profit after they encountered an elderly man who asked them where the nearest homeless shelter was, back in the winter of 2017. After a lot of Googling, they discovered there was nowhere open nearby for the man to stay.
“We bought him some food and tried to help him. It was really upsetting that we couldn’t do anything else,” Josh previously told HuffPost UK. “Later that night I went home and filled my car with hats, gloves and warm items, and went to try and find the man.
“It was freezing and I was driving around for hours, but I couldn’t find him. I felt really guilty about going back to my nice warm bed while he was outside in the cold.”
From that day on Josh and Natasha vowed to do more to help rough sleepers and shortly after, on 27 December 2017, they set up Linkey.
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