Tom and Victoria Shaw

For the Homeless, with Love

by Colne Life magazine

Hundreds of people have been lining up to boost a couple’s campaign to help homeless people at Christmas.

Tom and Victoria Shaw launched Love at Christmas to collect donations of food, clothes, toiletries and treats for homeless people, and were overwhelmed by offers of help after they launched a Facebook page.

Now Tom and Victoria face a busy few weeks up to Christmas as they and their helpers sort a mountain of donated goods and give it away.

“We’ve only been going for a few weeks and the response has been unreal,” said Tom, 31, who is a self-employed builder from Colne.

“We put Love at Christmas on Facebook and it just took off from there. We’ve had help from all over, and especially from people in Colne. It’s a brilliant town!”

Love at Christmas isn’t a formal charity and doesn’t accept cash donations. It’s all to do with receiving donations and passing them on to the needy. The idea has caught on, and offers of help keep pouring in.

They were recently given free use of a warehouse store room by Darren Harrison of AC/DC electrical suppliers at Barrowford.

Mark Barlow, manager of David Fishwick at Colne, offered them free use of a van throughout November and December, and friends have offered to put diesel in it.

Barry and Tracy Jordan of Textstyles, Colne, have made a sign for the van, and their son Thomas has printed leaflets for them handed out by Colne Fire Station.

Open Door at Nelson has donated 50 duvets, pillows and blankets, while the Pets at Home store at Colne has given dog treats and the charity Pendle Dogs in Need has given dog sleeping bags and treats. On top of that, many individual offers of help have been pouring in via the Facebook page.

Tom said: “If I see a homeless person, I don’t give them money but I’ll give them something to eat or a brew. “I don’t think that in 2015 there should be people without a home. We’re aware of homeless people in Nelson, and not so many in Colne, but there are a lot of people on the borderline of being homeless.

“The idea for Love at Christmas came out of the blue. It was just a case of wanting to help. There are people who are squatting or on the streets, and they’re not going to get anything at Christmas.

“We’re staying local for the time being, mostly around Colne and the rest of Pendle and Burnley, but we could go down to Rossendale and Manchester. It’s possible that we might carry on after Christmas.

“We’ve got shoeboxes full of little items and plenty of jackets, shoes, hats and scarves, popup tents, bedding and first-aid kits – just about everything you could think of. We haven’t finished yet, and any other donations will be welcome.”

Tom and full-time mum Victoria, 28, were both brought up in Colne, where they have many friends, but they now live at Nelson, and use their home at 128 Reedyford Road as a collecting point for donated goods.

They have two children, Zak, aged eight, and 10-month-old baby Tilly-May, and are preparing for a Christmas Day at home with their families, but it looks like that will be their only day off from their homeless charity tasks.

“We’ll be working up to Christmas Eve, and I think when Boxing Day comes we’ll be out and at it again,” Tom said.

Anyone who wants to help the efforts can contact the couple via their Facebook page, Love at Christmas.