• Concerned about the homeless people living in her community, Fay Sibley set up a coat exchange in Cochester, Essex. (Facebook/Fay Sibley)Source: Facebook/Fay Sibley
English paramedic Fay Sibley has given the coat off her back, and is encouraging others to do the same.
Alyssa Braithwaite

13 Jan 2017 - 1:32 PM  UPDATED 7 Aug 2018 - 10:59 AM

As Britain experiences sub-zero temperatures and blizzard conditions, one woman has started giving away free winter coats to homeless people in her community.

Paramedic Fay Sibley set up the coat exchange in her home town of Colchester in Essex, using some clothes racks and a sign encouraging those who need a coat but can't afford one to take a jacket, and those who have extra coats gathering dust in the wardrobe and want to help, to donate a one.

"Need a coat? Take one. Want to help? Leave one."

The inspiration for the goodwill gesture came from a photo of a similar concept in Yorkshire, which Sibley shared among her friends on January 5.

Two days later, she posted about the coat exchange she had set up outside Colchester Library, which has now been shared almost 1000 times.

The number of coats quickly multiplied from 10 to 40, as other residents got behind the initiative.

"I have been overwhelmed and hopefully we will get even more momentum," Sibley told Metro, who has already had some positive feedback from the community.

"We talked to a lady and gentleman who were sleeping in tents and they wanted me to pass their thanks for all your kind donations - they say 'to them it makes all the difference'," she wrote on Facebook.

"They tell us coats with hoods are particularly helpful so please keep donating if you can." 

Sibley has been contacted by people from around Britain and in other countries, including Australia, who would like to set up a clothing exchange where they live.

"We all feel so proud to be part of it," Sibley told the Daily Gazette.


Filthy Rich & Homeless season 2 airs over three nights starting on Tuesday 14 August 8.30pm on SBS. You can also stream the show anytime on SBS On Demand. Join the conversation with #FilthyRichHomeless.

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