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Kindness drawers now open to Belfast city's homeless

By Laura Abernethy

Published 02/01/2016

One of the Kindness Drawers left in Belfast
One of the Kindness Drawers left in Belfast
One of the Kindness Drawers left in Belfast

A group of good samaritans has filled kindness drawers in Belfast city centre to help people living on the streets.

The drawers, which were placed in Jubilee Gardens by the community group Common Law NI on New Year's Eve, provide warm clothing and toiletries for rough sleepers in the city.

Described as a social experiment, the unit of 18 plastic drawers acts as a drop-off point for people to donate to those in need.

The drawers can be filled with warm clothing, preferably in a large size, and any toiletries except aerosols. Food is also not allowed.

The units are covered in stickers with uplifting messages and contact numbers for organisations that can help those sleeping on the street.

Messages include "Your love will warm Belfast tonight", "Be kind as you may not pass this way again" and "A candle like happiness can light 1,000 others without damaging itself."

The people behind the group filled the drawers before they placed them in the paved area at the junction of Victoria Street and the High Street, but they are now encouraging members of the public to get involved.

Kris Nixon, a spokesperson for the organisation, explained: "Instead of going somewhere and getting a handout, it's about being able to go somewhere, helping yourself and getting what you need. It takes the idea of asking for something out of it. It puts power back in people's heads. It's also there all the time.

"Outreach charities are absolutely fantastic. There are people that go out every night in Belfast and wander round in the wee small hours, but that's just the wee small hours. If it's raining now and someone has lost their waterproof coat, they can go there and get one."

The group plans to keep the drawers in place for as long as possible and hopes they will not be vandalised.

"We don't know how people will take to it," Kris said. "It's not impossible that within two days they could be completely trashed. We're hoping the people of Belfast will treat them with respect."

Last year, the group placed a homeless pod in the same area to give homeless people some warmth and shelter.

The six foot by three foot box acted as a bench during the day but also had a bed underneath with a charging point for a mobile phone and a radio.

However, the pod was removed in late January by Belfast City Council, which cited a number of safety concerns.

It was later recovered by Common Law NI and put back in place for the rest of the winter.

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