Merseyside waste management company Gaskells Waste Services is supporting homelessness charity The Whitechapel Centre by donning some fab and funky socks to take part in the charity’s Socktober Campaign.
The Socktober campaign encourages individuals, businesses and schools to wear some funky and fabulous socks on a day in October and make a donation to the charity. The Whitechapel Centre gives out over 7,000 pairs of socks each year to those in need and it’s an item that is rarely donated in new condition.
The Bootle-based waste management company has worked in partnership with The Whitechapel Centre for several years, supporting them financially and also helping to raise awareness of the dangers of rough sleepers taking refuge in commercial bins. Gaskells’ main truck on the Liverpool route is branded with The Whitechapel Centre’s logo and phone number and all their commercial bins have stickers warning of the dangers of sleeping in bins, along with the contact details for The Whitechapel Centre.
Gaskells also actively fundraises for The Whitechapel Centre in some pretty weird and wacky ways! In the past they’ve hosted a pie-off, as well as a bin truck pull - so Socktober is right up their street and it allows all the staff to get involved.
Julianna Petkovic, fundraiser for The Whitechapel Centre said: “The Whitechapel Centre is delighted that Gaskells are taking part in our Socktober campaign! The Whitechapel Centre and Gaskells have a fantastic partnership and we have been working closely together to raise awareness and fundraise for the last few years. Teams from Gaskells have consistently taken part in lots of our events, that unfortunately due to Covid-19 can’t run as normal this year. So it’s great they are on board to have a socktastic time.”
Claire Hannah from Gaskells Marketing team said “Homelessness is an issue which is very close to our hearts as our drivers see people sleeping on the streets every single day. We’ve been working with The Whitechapel Centre for the past few years as we’ve seen first hand the work they do for homeless people across Liverpool, which is invaluable. The whole team at Gaskells really enjoys taking part in their events, so Socktober is brilliant, because all our staff can get involved, whether it’s our drivers who are out and about, our teams in the office, or even colleagues who will be having virtual meetings too! We’re all really looking forward to it and would urge as many businesses as possible to sign up and raise money for such a worthwhile cause”.
Post by Julianna
After a few months on furlough I returned to The Whitechapel Centre as their Corporate Fundraiser, raring to go and eager to speak to my colleagues about the amazing work they had been doing (and continue to do!). The name of one company kept cropping up – My Fresh Box. At the start of lockdown their founder, Alex Head, reached out to us and very kindly offered their support with a donation of 50 fresh, tasty, and healthy meals per week – that’s 2,600 meals in a year! We’ve had incredible feedback from our clients about how tasty the My Fresh Box meals are and so I was keen to speak to Alex and find out more about him, his fantastic business, and his motivation for reaching out:
Julianna: Tell us a bit about yourself/your background.
Alex: I’m Alex, the owner and founder of My Fresh Box. Before starting this up, I was a chef for 12 years up and down the country working in Michelin star, then Rosette restaurants. I then decided to open up MFB in 2018 following a similar role I was doing for a few friends of mine. I enjoy football, boxing, running and spending time with my family, nothing out of the ordinary really but keeping fit has definitely been a passion of mine.
Julianna: What made you start up My Fresh Box? Alex: I was quite ill in the summer of 2017, dropping weight down to just under 8 stone. I then started training with a PT who advised I got my nutrition on track (being a chef funnily enough hindered this due to the long and high demanding workload and long hours). I then saw my PT was using a meal prep company who weren’t really providing him with a very good quality of meals, so I just thought that I could do it for him, probably saving him money and giving him better dishes. So I started doing this for him and then a few of his fellow gym PTs also asked for some. This just sort of snowballed from there really, fast forward two years and we’re delivering to all over the UK and rapidly expanding month by month.
Julianna: Why did you choose to support The Whitechapel Centre?
Alex: Homelessness in Liverpool has always been something that troubles me, a few years back in a restaurant, myself and a few of the kitchen staff spent our night off preparing and cooking Christmas dinners for some of the rough sleepers in the city centre. Upon realising we were getting a bit of food waste in the kitchen at MFB, me and the staff decided to utilise it in a better way than eating it ourselves or simply throwing it out. We then got in touch with the guys down in The Whitechapel Centre and came up with a solution of 50 meals per week and it’s going great so far. It really does feel amazing to receive the feedback from the guys at the charity and hear about what a positive impact it’s having on the lives of some of those they help out.
Julianna: How are you partnering with The Whitechapel Centre?
Alex: We’re donating meals twice a week to them, as well as trying to raise some awareness with our social media posts and stories. Whilst chatting to the team, they mentioned donations have dropped this year due to Covid-19, and a lot of corporate events and fundraisers have been cancelled which unfortunately has really affected The Whitechapel Centre and their income. I’ve decided to raise money myself by running a full marathon with my little sister on the Saturday 24th October, I hope this will help to contribute towards what they need.
Julianna: Is this your first marathon? Why did you choose to do a marathon?
Alex: Yes, this is my first full marathon, although I ran the Liverpool half marathon a couple of years ago. I’ve always enjoyed running, and obviously a marathon is a massive task but I think pushing myself to that limit will hopefully make people aware of the commitment everyone involved with the charity puts in and encourage them to donate to this amazing cause.
Julianna: What will you be eating to fuel your training?
Alex: Luckily enough I own a meal prep company so mostly the meals from My Fresh Box, consisting of plenty of carbs for the first few weeks of training to keep my energy up, but then try and cut a bit of weight a few weeks beforehand so I’ll then follow a low calorie diet. I train in the gym three times a week and I am running two to three times a week, plus working seven days a week so I need plenty of energy. I really am quite lucky in the sense that I have access to high quality food, and I know for a fact that the meals I’ll be having are brilliant, and not just processed food you get with a lot of other meal prep companies.
Julianna: How can people help?
Alex: At the moment, donating to the page and sharing it across your social channels would be a great help. Closer to the time we’ll probably be looking for some volunteers to hand out water and food gels to us whilst were running and give us plenty of support on our route. We’re hoping to set up a big finish line at The Whitechapel Centre so any support is greatly appreciated. However, this isn’t just a one-time thing and any support for the charity in the long run would be brilliant and greatly appreciated.
To support Alex with his marathon fundraising efforts, please visit, share and donate: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/alex-head5
For more information on My Fresh Box and their delightfully tasty, healthy meals, check out their website: https://www.my-fresh-box.co.uk/
Colin has been volunteering with The Whitechapel Centre since Christmas as a driver, collecting and delivering donations between venues. Colin is also a keen triathlete and when lockdown arrived many of his planned events were cancelled so he decided to set himself a challenge and raise sponsorship for the charity at the same time.
Throughout May Colin was up early running, starting with 1km on 1st, he increased his distance each day by 1km, until 31km on the 31st of the month. In total, Colin ran 496km, and for the last 10 days was running more than a half marathon a day!
Despite Colin’s fitness he found it tough going, “I’ve done endurance events before but to run every day for a month, with increasing distances, is really challenging, pretty much everything was sore by the time I finished.”
Through his volunteering, Colin has seen how the Whitechapel Centre has been supporting people who are homeless during the pandemic. He explains, “I’ve been helping out a couple of days a week, picking up donations from companies and then dropping off food parcels to clients around the city. It’s been good to see Liverpool’s response to the pandemic, people have been very kind.”
You can see all of Colin’s daily updates and sponsor him here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Colin-Vallance-Owen1
David has taken part in every one our of 5 sleepout events - here he explains why:
It was always a dream to have a place in town and when I eventually moved into a flat in Liverpool City Centre, it became extremely evident how bad the homeless situation was. I would walk past people every day on the way to and from work and I’d see the same faces day and night. People would be bedding down for the night on the street as I was heading to bed and they’d still be there in the morning when I woke. I knew I wanted to help and at first just used to stop and offer food, drink and conversation. I wanted to do more so Googled how to help; it was then I came across The Whitechapel Centre. I started supporting with bucket collections before and after some matches but when I saw on social media about the Liverpool Sleepout and thought I’d give it a go.
What’s the best part of the event?
I take the whole event quite seriously so just turn up with my Sleeping bag just two pieces of cardboard and plastic sheeting. I like the challenge of trying to build my little shelter trying to make it as waterproof and windproof as I can. After having a little chat to my new neighbours and listening to the entertainment at 10pm, I climb into my shelter and that’s me for the night. Will I make it to the morning? Last year I really wasn’t sure as the tail end of storm Callum was still with us. I was drenched and up pretty early in the morning. Every previous year I had taken part had been dry and it was just a completely different experience. At the end of it I knew could go home have a hot shower and even go back to bed! I felt like I had earnt the money donated by my friends and family and it certainly was a challenge.
Having learnt more about The Whitechapel Centre and the amount of support they can offer, I wanted to support them. Often there are mental health issues underlying someone’s homelessness. I’m not afraid to share I’ve had my own mental health struggles in the past but I am lucky to have a support network around me. Mental health can have a huge impact on those who are or will become homeless, yet they may not have the people and resources to lean on when they need it most. Homelessness can really happen to anyone – Anyone is ANYONE.