Spotlight on Charity in Princesshay this Christmas

A donation hub has been set up for the first time in Princesshay this month as part of its Christmas 2020 charitable initiatives. The Giving Hub is on Roman Walk and is collecting specific donations to support people who are homeless or vulnerably housed this Christmas. Princesshay is working with the Exeter Homelessness Partnership to deliver the scheme.

What does home mean to you?

If you’re one of the lucky ones, when you think of home; the words ‘safe’ and ‘secure’ probably spring to mind. These are words that those staying in hostels / on the street aren’t lucky enough to use to describe their experience. 

Jo Armstrong from the Exeter Homelessness Partnership said:

Every year Christmas is an especially difficult time for those facing homelessness but this year we know that for many, things will be tougher than ever. A simple act of donating a warm, quality winter coat or sleeping bag can make a tremendous difference to someone. We have list of what is needed and this will be updated regularly, so please do check the list before donating, thank you.

Exeter Homeless Partnership is a three-year Comic Relief funded project which brings together the five major organisations working with homelessness in Exeter (Exeter CoLab, Exeter City Council, Julian House, BCHA and St Petrock’s) with the sole purpose of ending homelessness. The pop-up shop is collecting donations of clothing and bedding (see the list below) and money.

Fiona Carden, Director of CoLab Exeter and Exeter Homeless partnership tells me that the project is steered by a ‘lived experience team’ made up of eight people who have experienced homelessness, and have been through a training process to help them co-design the process. he says;

The key is that the people with lived experience are the constant voice – they are the ones who make the choices, they are the ones who challenge.

One of the eight, who would prefer to remain anonymous, speaks of his positive experience as part of the steering group:

I feel like we’re heard. No one needs to sleep on the street – homelessness can be ended. It’s been a good experience for me

Tap to donate 

In the window of the building on Roman Walk, and the window at the new BrewDog site in Guildhall, there is a ‘tap to donate’ panel where you can tap your card and donate £3 as you go past. The money raised goes into a pot for a grant scheme for people experiencing homelessness that need help. Individuals can apply for a grant for things like; courses, suits for job interviews and haircuts. When the pot reaches 5k the  ‘lived experience’ panel get together to and review and decide who to distribute to.

Housing is an issue in Exeter, we are one of the highest rent to Salary in the country, we need to ‘Create a City of equality – a home is a right, not just a house – a home’. Come together to work together. In some ways the pandemic has brought everyone closer, made things happen faster. You cannot blame anybody for homelessness, it’s not helpful to cast blame. The only way we can end it, is by you – me – everybody doing something to make a change . Each of us have a role to play. Local businesses have all been pitching in to help. No one needs to be homeless.

Michelle Menezes, Princesshay Centre Manager, said:

We are so pleased to be able to support Exeter Homeless Partnership. Our theme this year is Give Thanks in recognition of the incredible acts of kindness we have seen throughout 2020. The pressures of the pandemic mean that many vulnerable people are under more strain than ever and we want to help raise awareness of this as part of our Christmas campaign. We know our visitors and centre colleagues will do us proud with their donations.

It’s really important that the donations to the Giving Hub match what is needed so visitors are encouraged to visit the website for more information at if they’d like to help by donating.

Charity Christmas Trees

Princesshay is also playing host to its annual Charity Christmas Tree Festival where 30 real Christmas trees will be decorated by local charities and on display on Roman Walk to help raise awareness during the festive period.

The hub is open now subject to the latest government guidance and will operate until the 16th January on Roman Walk on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday, collecting items such as winter coats, sleeping bags, boots and some other specific items.  There is also an ‘alternative giving’ contactless donation point where visitors can tap to donate £3 to Exeter Homelessness Partnership.

Princesshay Christmas Late Night Shopping starts on Thursday 3rd December* until 8pm and then Thursday 10th and Thursday 17th December. *subject to lockdown restrictions lifting and the reopening of non-essential retail.

Read more about Christmas in Princesshay here.

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