A BIG-HEARTED cabbie has been “overwhelmed” by the generous response to his campaign to keep the city’s homeless warm this winter.
David Storie, who drives for Central Taxis, hoped to raise enough money for 25 winter sleeping bags by mid-November before the cold weather sets in.
But thanks to a flood of donations he has raised almost £2,000, allowing him to provide more than 100 as well as hats, gloves and scarves.
And Livingston-based firm Highlander, an outdoor and military goods supplier, has agreed to offer a “massive discount” on all the gear to help as many rough-sleepers as possible.
Now it is hoped the campaign to keep the city’s homeless warm through winter can become an annual event organised via the Edinburgh Taxi Association.
David said: “The campaign has grown arms and legs. The reaction from taxi drivers and members of the public has been amazing. I was contacted by a company called Highlander. Managing director Ramin [Golzari], and Mark McNally of the Edinburgh Taxi Association are friends.
“So we had a meeting with them last Friday to discuss what they can do to help us.”
He added: “The Just Giving page has nine or ten days left [before it expires] and after that we are ready to go.”
The sleeping bags will be distributed by the drivers themselves and any surplus will be dropped off at a homelessness centre where they can be allocated to those most in need.
The 39-year-old from East Craigs has been driving around the city for almost a decade but noticed a spike in homelessness in the last year, particularly on Princes Street. However, it was a remark from his passengers that finally spurred him to set up a JustGiving page with backing from friends in the taxi trade.
The father-of-two previously worked for a bank in repossession, which made him more aware of the gulf between rich and poor – and how quickly someone can find themselves on the streets, even in one of the UK’s wealthiest cities.
Derek Macfarlane, of Highlander, said the money would provide sleeping bags to more than 100 rough-sleepers.
He added: “We are just trying to help out as much as we can. David will be supplied all the sleeping bags from Highlander and we will be making sure his taxi is packed full when he comes to collect them.”
Many of the sleeping bags provided by the firm will be expensive high-end military standard. The company has previously handed them out to the homeless in Dublin as well as to refugees fleeing war zones. Donations can be made online at: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/david-storie-2.
Stark figures released by from Shelter have shown that the average life expectancy for a homeless person in Scotland is 42.