Research led to appeal

Maggie McDowell, from Peterlee, teaching fellow at Durham University, with the collection of donated clothes she has collected to distribute  to the homeless.
Maggie McDowell, from Peterlee, teaching fellow at Durham University, with the collection of donated clothes she has collected to distribute to the homeless.

AN academic’s study inspired her to collect clothes and shoes for the homeless.

Maggie McDowell, 42, learned of the plight of homeless women while interviewing them on the streets for her PhD at Durham University.

The mother-of-three, from Peterlee, wanted to do something practical to help and asked colleagues and students for donations.

In the past two weeks she has been inundated coats, jumpers, blankets, shoes and other items.

Maggie plans to pass the clothing on to the Cyrenians charity which works to help the homeless.

“Charities such as the Cyrenians rely heavily on donations,” said Maggie,

“All donations are highly valued and very quickly distributed.

“During my studies I realised how many people become homeless and the diverse circumstances involved.

“The women I interviewed were aged anything from 16 years to in their mid-50s.

“One woman was homeless because she lived in a tied house and when the job went, so did her home.”

Maggie said donations are particularly welcome as winter approaches.

“Many homeless people sleep rough,” she added.

“An extra layer of clothes is an extra layer of heat which can be vital for survival in freezing temperatures.

“I wanted to do something to help after my PhD and collecting clothes seemed the most useful way.

“The staff and students have been extremely generous with their time and donations.

“I will renew the appeal after Christmas, because I think some people will be clearing out old clothes to make way for new things they’ve been given as presents.”