A warm-hearted community cop has launched a scheme which lets people who hire kilts donate their socks to the homeless.
PC Liam Coleman came up with the idea when he returned a hired kilt and was told the socks would be binned if he didn’t want to keep them.
After making daily welfare checks on people sleeping rough in Edinburgh PC Coleman knew his idea would help the most vulnerable people cope as the winter approaches.
The West End community police officer said he often finds people are ill prepared for the winter weather – suffering from trenchfoot or even frostbite.
PC Coleman’s request for the socks to be donated sparked a charity link-up between The Kilt Hire Company in Haymarket and the Salvation Army.
“We do a lot of work with the Salvation Army,” he said.
“They do their best but are often short of key items and socks are a well-sought after piece of clothing for those sleeping rough.”
He added: “Socks can deteriorate quite rapidly when living out of doors permanently so a decent pair is a very important thing.
“It was seeing a homeless man in a state of destitution earlier in the year that made me try and think of something simple we could do to help in some way.
“Without the help of the Salvation Army there would be more deaths on the streets, and that is the harsh reality of the situation.”
The Kilt Hire Company supervisor Craig Paterson said customers were normally given the choice to keep the socks, which are part of the hire price.
He said: “Now we explain to customers that if they return the socks they will be going to a good cause and so far everybody has been completely behind the idea.
“It was a no-brainer for us as a business. We’re always one for supporting charities – we are a company that looks after the community.
“Everyone is very keen on this idea and if it’s going to help homeless people in the community then I am all for getting involved.”
Salvation Army senior support worker Michael McGraw is hopeful it will make a big difference.
“At the drop-in centre on Niddry Street we try and provide whatever we can for whoever comes through the door,” he said.
“Everything from socks to blankets to toiletries and coats is so helpful.
“It’s amazing how someone can come in, have a bite to eat and a change of socks and they leave again with a spring in their step. It’s as simple as that.”
A more creative approach to policing social problems such as rough sleeping, such as this, is said to be needed now.
Sgt Bob Mason, who leads the West End community team, said such “out-the-box” thinking can help minimise the health impacts of poor clothing for those sleeping rough in winter, which in turn, can also relieve pressure on other services.