Coming together to support the homeless

Last month we introduced you to Under One Sky, a volunteer-led organisation that supports the homeless in various cities across the UK. If you missed that article, you can give it a read here. Through our Gift Your Gear initiative we’re working with Under One Sky to protect those living on the streets from the elements, using outdoor kit generously donated by our customers.

“There was no place to go”

Under One Sky was founded in 2012, when Mikkel Juel Iversen ran his first Skywalk event with some friends in London. For the first few years, these walks took place every winter and were an opportunity to support the homeless not just with food and supplies, but also with a conversation and human connection. By winter 2019, Mikkel was running a collective of 600 volunteers and starting to look at growing the organisation across Europe. Then the unthinkable happened, the pandemic hit, having a devastating effect on homeless communities across the world.  

With the country in lockdown, vital facilities such as public toilets and soup kitchens were shut down. Under One Sky’s volunteers sensed an air of desperation; people had no idea when the lifelines they had once relied upon might become available to them again.

Mikkel switched his focus to building Under One Sky’s presence on the streets closer to home, going out every day to support and talk to the homeless. Although plans to expand had taken a back seat, Under One Sky more than doubled in size during the lockdowns, existing now as a group of over 1,400 volunteers who we’re extremely proud to be working alongside.  

 “We found people who hadn’t eaten for up to a week"

Under One Sky build meaningful relationships with people living on the streets, having conversations as they hand out supplies such as food, drinks, clothing, sleeping bags, gift cards, books and toiletries. Speaking to each homeless person they meet, the volunteers build shopping lists of special requests. These range from a new pair of glasses for someone with dangerously blurred vision trying to manage life in London without a home, to a new wheelchair for someone whose old chair had lost a wheel, making it near impossible for them to get around. This is where our Gift Your Gear initiative can be of the most help to Under One Sky.  

Our donations of useable outdoor kit, collected from our generous customers, mean that Under One Sky no longer have to buy items like warm coats, waterproof jackets or durable trousers for their homeless friends. These high quality, long-lasting pieces of kit are designed for the outdoors, and can change the lives of those living on the streets.  

“Small gestures really do matter”

Mikkel explains why these donations do more than keeping people dry, “because giving people who have nothing something precious, something of quality, is such an easy way to make them feel dignified.”

If you have any pre-loved, useable outdoor kit that you would like to donate to our Gift Your Gear initiative, to help us support more fantastic causes like Under One Sky, you can do this from 28th October – 21st November in any of our 54 Rohan stores, or by requesting a free returns label online here. We collect kit from any outdoor brand, not just Rohan, and each and every donation you make makes a real difference. As a thank you for your donation, you’ll receive 15% off^ this season’s exciting new range.

It’s a busy time for Under One Sky. Not only are they growing in numbers but they are also involved in an upcoming feature documentary, shot by a filmmaker who joined them over 12 months of the pandemic. We can’t wait to watch.

 Written by Hazel Munn, Partnership Executive at Rohan.

 ^The Gift your Gear 15% off offer is only valid against a full-price purchase once you have made a qualifying Gift Your Gear kit donation either instore or online. This discount code can only be used for a single transaction and is not based on the number of items donated. The 15% offer ends on 21st November 2021. The discount may not be used against a previous purchase, to buy gift cards or in-conjunction with any other offers. Postage donations are to be returned to Rohan by 30th November 2021. Free returns postage is for UK mainland donations only. Size and weight restrictions apply when donating online.

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