Starter Packs is a charity based in Govan, but they work right across the Greater Glasgow area. They provide a pack of household essentials to people who are moving into tenancy, usually after being homeless, but sometimes after fleeing domestic situations, or leaving the army, or prison, or indeed sometimes through living in poverty.
The pack is made up of around 60 items, ranging from kitchen essentials like pots, pans, crockery and cutlery. Bedding packs with duvets and bedding. A kettle and toaster to make sure folks can have hot drinks and food in the early days of settling where there often isn’t a cooker yet. Finally, they always include toiletries and cleaning products. If it’s a family pack, they include extra duvets, bedding, towels and crockery for all, and include toys and books for the children too. Every item is important in helping people settle quickly and make their new flat or house actually feel like a home. They also put in vouchers for their shops in every pack, which should make the pack go a bit further.
They make the packs up from a mix of donated items, some re-used and some bought for us. They will also buy any items that they need when they are running low. They try to encourage people to be environmentally friendly and re-use items as much as possible as well as being able to help people in positions of poverty.
The aim of their packs is to help alleviate poverty and to allow people to settle quickly and to sustain their tenancy in what can often be a difficult time moving into a new place, where if you don’t have the basics, which most of us take for granted, to help you settle, it can be very easy to leave that new place because it doesn’t feel like your home and prospectively returning to homelessness.
They have two shops in Govan that support the work that they do. The Magpie’s Nest is their Community Thrift Store. It sells all manner of life’s essentials, and everything is priced to be affordable for the community. They often hear customers telling us that they are in a situation where they can afford to buy essentials for the house, or buy food for the family, and with adult clothing priced at 50p, £1 and £2, and kids clothes from 20p, they don’t have to choose between clothing and feeding the family. Their other shop, The Magpie’s Eye, is more realistically priced. It sells more vintage and high end high street items. From clothing to furniture, music, films, and books, the Eye really allows us to sell the less essential items affordably, but at a more realistic price to help with funding the Starter Packs.
Obviously preventing homelessness is their primary goal, but their shops allow us to alleviate the effects of poverty throughout their community indirectly, as well as through the direct benefit of the starter packs. They feel it is an important part of Starter Packs as an organisation, and the way the shops support the work that they do goes beyond community pricing. The shops have provided a powerful word of mouth letting people around Glasgow know about the work that they do. They are in many respects the public face of the charity, and have brought us much in the way of support from customers, raised much awareness of the charity’s work, and provided volunteering opportunities for people from various backgrounds to come together, gain and indeed share experience in a community-centric charity organisation.
Find out more about how your support will help, by visiting the Starter Packs website.