One-woman mission to help people with nowhere to live ...

Olivia Barrott SUS-161020-135907001
Olivia Barrott SUS-161020-135907001

A young woman touched by the plight of homeless people has now turned a personal mission to help them into a public crusade.

Olivia Barrott - who works as a personal trainer at the Triangle Leisure Centre in Burgess Hill - has been collecting and distributing food, drinks, warm clothing and blankets to the homeless for several years.

And this year all three leisure centres in Mid Sussex - The Triangle, The Dolphin in Haywards Heath and the King’s Centre in East Grinstead - are helping.

Bins are being sited in the centres where people can leave coats, jumpers, gloves, scarves and sleeping bags. Collection points will also be available at The Martlets shopping centre in Burgess Hill and Clair Hall, Haywards Heath.

Olivia and colleague Katy Lomas plan to distribute the items to homeless people every couple of weeks throughout the winter and in the run up to Christmas.

Olivia first started helping the homeless when she noticed increasing numbers of people sleeping rough on the streets of Brighton in freezing cold weather.

She joined an organisation called Op Safe Winter who regularly go out in the cold months giving out food and hot drinks.

“I have been out at least three times a year on my own or with a friend providing meals, drinks, dog food and plenty of second hand coats that Brighton’s nightclubs were very willing to donate,” said Olivia.

“I always make sure I have warm blankets, jumpers etc in my boot and if I pass someone I pull over and lay a blanket or waterproof over them.

“People are very quick to judge when someone is homeless, they forget it could happen to anyone no matter what your upbringing.”

“Over the years I have heard many different stories, I have sat in the cold frosty weather talking and in the shop doorways in the torrential rain. No-one deserves this.”

The mid Sussex leisure centres are run on behalf of the district council by Places for People Leisure which is supporting the ‘warm winter’ project.