Taxi driver backs winter sleeping bag campaign for homeless

David Storie wants to keep the homeless warm this winter. Picture: Greg Macvean

David Storie wants to keep the homeless warm this winter. Picture: Greg Macvean

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As the freezing nights draw in, the Capital’s homeless huddled in doorways are sometimes overlooked by the hordes of Christmas shoppers.

But the plight of rough-sleepers has not gone unnoticed by one big-hearted cabbie who has been moved to launch a fundraising campaign to keep them warm this winter.

David Storie, who drives for Central Taxis, wants to secure 25 waterproof winter sleeping bags by mid-November, before the cold weather sets in.

He has been driving around the city for almost a decade, and has noticed a spike in homelessness in the last year, particularly on Princes Street. But 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.

He said: “It all started when a couple of tourists from America commented on the number of homeless people in the city centre.

“They are sleeping rough during the night in all conditions with nothing but a blanket and a couple of cardboard boxes to protect them from the elements.

“I thought ‘We have got to find a way so they can at least keep themselves warm’.”

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.

The 39-year-old from East Craigs first mooted the idea at a committee meeting of the Edinburgh Taxi Association.

He has already secured a pledge of £100 from Central Taxis, which has been matched by rivals City Cabs and also by cab app Gett.

And lots of other taxi drivers from around the city have also made donations in an effort to help him reach his £500 target.

He is asking people for a donation of at least £10, or more if they can afford it.

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.

Donations can be made ­online at: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/david-storie-2.

Tony Kenmuir, chairman of Central Taxis, described the fundraiser as a “great idea” and said he had spread the word.

He added: “We have over 1100 drivers and we have sent the message out to all of them so they will be able to make their own contributions independently.”

One supplier has offered him a discount because he would be buying on bulk and giving them away to the homeless.

Stark figures released by from Shelter have shown that the average life expectancy for a homeless person is in Scotland is 42.

john.connell@jpress.co.uk