I've been there. Penniless, homeless and hungry. Twenty years ago I faced the same problems that many others that are having to face on a day-to-day basis.
Although many homeless people end up on the streets due to no fault of their own, I was to blame. I'd left the Royal Navy completely unprepared for life without the security of a bed, money, or understanding of the big wide world once I'd left (even though I'd spent five years travelling the world).
The uncertainty of not knowing where I would be sleeping every day was traumatising. On good nights I'd be able to raise enough cash to be able to stay in a £8-a-night backpacker's hostel. On bad nights I wouldn't actually go to bed - i'd walk the streets of London all night, and then catch the Circle Line tube to get some much-needed shut-eye.
I was able to drag myself out of this pit of dispair by getting hold of some toys, and drag them, door-to-door to sell them. These 67p toys were my lifesaver - I started by buying a single toy from a shop, and knocked on door after door until I sold it for £3. This was my defining moment. My EUREKA. My way out of the misery of homelessness.
With the profits I went back to the shop to buy more, and repeated the process. Over the course of a month or so I had gone from being homeless to at least having a proper nights sleep every night.
My journey back into society had begun.
Over the years I've built up a substantial business whilst on my journey, and I now own a portfolio of successful digital busineses. But it wasn't easy. In fact it was a bit of a rollercoaster, and I've experienced homelessness more than once.
But when things changed for the better, I looked back at the journey I'd taken. Not one for forgetting my roots (and my struggles), I decided to start KipBag as a way of helping others who are facing the same problems as I faced all those years ago. I'm lucky enough to be able to have some extra time and money to be able to do something worthwhile for the good of humanity.
It's these three little things - warmth, comfort and dignity - that I remember needing most while cold and wet on the streets of London. Perhaps in equal measure. And that's why I was determined that each KipBag would contain enough items to satisfy each of them: clothing for the warmth, the sleeping bag for a little bit of comfort, and toiletries to keep clean - and restore a bit dignity.
We know that KipBags aren't going to change the face of homelessness as a cause, but if we can help bring someone some warmth, comfort and dignity, then every little helps.
If you're interested, you can read a speech I made at a charity event, which gives a little more details into my story.
Read more about Chris Haycock and his work as a digital marketer and strategist.
Sometimes, if you see an injustice you need to get off your butt and do something about it.
And that's what we did. Each of our founding members have some experience with homelessness in one way or another, whether from experiencing it ourselves, or actively going out and helping the homeless on the streets.
We three have one thing in common: we're ready to roll up our sleeves and help some of the most vulnerable people in our society - the homeless.
Whilst we all have our own unique story, we're just three normal people who decided to get together and try to make a difference. We're not in it for the money or the recognition. Simply knowing that we're making a difference is enough for us.
We all have a moral obligation to help those who are less fortunate than us. For some, the issue of homelessness is close to our hearts. If it's close to your heart too, please consider gifting a KipBag today.
Chris Haycock, Co-Founder
In June 2016 Chris approached Eric and Amy to ask them whether they wanted to help with a new idea to help the homeless who were sleeping rough on our streets. They both thought it was a good idea, and jumped at the chance. Both of them were already dedicating a huge amount of their time and energy to help the homeless, so it seemed like a natural extension of their activities.
Chris has always been searching for a way to give something back to the most vulnerable - he's someone that has experienced homelessness first hand (you can read our stories below).
The idea was simple - to provide sleeping bags for those that needed them. From our voluntary work we already knew that there were a huge amount of people who were sleeping in the cold - inside boxes, bus shelters, makeshift tents, thin blankets, etc. The least we could do was to ensure they were warm. The idea was born.
Coming up with the name was the easiest part: KipBags.
Once we had decided to make it our cause, the decision was made to expand on the sleeping bag idea and create a pack of essential items to those in need. We decided that along with a sleeping bag, other items should include toiletries, socks, hat, comb, plasters, wetwipes and an advice pack.
In other words, just a few items that can make a difference when you don't have anywhere to sleep.
All three of us understand that we can only make a small difference to issues of homelessness. We know we can't eradicate it simply by giving sleeping bags to those that need them. But they go a long way towards providing warmth, shelter and comfort on cold, wet nights.
Please support our cause by donating a KipBag today: