Four Jewish sibling pairs from Barnet created a snowball effect across the Jewish community this week after a chance encounter with a homeless man by one of them led to a wave of support for shelters across the borough.
Recalling the initial impetus for the initiative, Josh Adley from Finchley said he was asked by an elderly homeless man outside Barnet Everyman just before Christmas whether he knew of any hostels or shelters nearby.
Adley filled in the Streetlink form for outreach support, and together with his sister Tasha they searched online for local shelters, but found that most required referrals, so could only advise the man of a centre run by Homeless Action in Barnet, where he could go for breakfast the following morning.
Josh said he bought the man dinner that night and later filled his car with warm clothes and blankets and went out looking for him, but to no avail.
By then, however, the encounter had touched a nerve, and left Adley feeling powerless to do more, which prompted the group of friends to act.
“Since a young age I’ve always been passionate about helping homeless people,” he said. “Growing up I gave small donations to St. Mungo’s and regularly read their newsletters. After meeting that man in need, who approached me directly, and not being able to help beyond buying him a meal, I felt compelled to do something.”
Josh and Tasha decided to enlist the help of Tasha’s husband and his brother – Adam and Jonny Langleben – together with Josh’s wife and her brother, Rebecca Adley and Joel Bowman, and their friends Laura and Gemma Kaplan.
The four siblings created the Linkey Initiative (named after a game they were playing when the inspiration came to them) and contacted three local projects – Shelter from the Storm, the Marylebone Project and SCT – to work out what was needed. You can follow the group on Facebook for updates.
“Lots were desperately in need of supplies like toiletries, sleeping bags and hats and scarves,” said Tasha. “So we rallied up to 50 friends and family for a huge collection using Amazon Wishlist, which is now being distributed among shelters and rough sleepers this month and next.” The group add that they have received £700 of donations via Amazon wish list in the last 5 days.
Some donors gave their own items, others bought them specifically, and by 28 December the haul included toiletries, which was the priority item requested, plus disposable razors, shower gels, shampoos, toothbrushes and toothpaste, hats, scarves, gloves, warm clothing and jackets.
“We wanted to get something off the ground quickly whilst it’s so cold, so we drew on our collective skill sets,” said Tasha, adding that a simple website was currently being developed, alongside Facebook and Twitter pages.
Calling the community to action, Josh said: “I often think that I haven’t done anything to deserve being in a warm bed, fed and safe. I was born into it. Others weren’t. Yes some made some bad decisions but there’s too much luck involved. It’s freezing outside at night. People deserve our help.”
He added: “This is clearly a short term benefit not a long term solution but we have to start somewhere. If you think you can help, please get in touch.”