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Hand on Heart Charity Delivers Most Ambitious Set of Winter Projects To-Date

“It is heartbreaking to see a child experience Christmas Day in a hospital ward. It was pleasing to see the spirits of NHS staff lifted when we delivered the gift bags to hospitals across London and Watford. They knew how grateful the children and their parents would be to receive their presents on Christmas morning and bring a little seasonal cheer.” 

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“It is heartbreaking to see a child experience Christmas Day in a hospital ward. It was pleasing to see the spirits of NHS staff lifted when we delivered the gift bags to hospitals across London and Watford. They knew how grateful the children and their parents would be to receive their presents on Christmas morning and bring a little seasonal cheer.” 

During the final weeks of 2021, the north London Watford-based charity Hand on Heart delivered three key projects to support vulnerable and rough-sleeping people in the UK.

The projects were the i) assembly and distribution of 1,400 Winter Warmer Packs to the homeless and other vulnerable groups, ii) collection and distribution of 150 winter coats to Afghan evacuees, and iii) creation of almost 300 Christmas gift bags for children in hospital. 

Image Credit: Hand on Heart

During the period from October to mid-December, the Hand on Heart volunteers were incredibly busy with mobilisation, sourcing items, assembly, liaising with 20 partner organisations, and distribution. 

For the campaign launch on 6th November, Hand on Heart were joined by local dignitaries: Peter Taylor (elected Mayor of Watford), Dean Russell (MP for Watford), Bilqees Mauthour (Watford borough council member and chairman), Dr. Sayed Ammar Nakshawani (Islamic scholar and author), and Rabi Martins, Asif Khan and Imran Hamid (Watford borough councillors). 

Winter Warmer Packs for the homeless

With the help of 65 volunteer families and two schools (Elsley Primary School, Al-Sadiq, and Al Zahra schools), 1,400 Winter Warmer Packs were assembled. This allowed a team of 100 HoH volunteers to distribute the packs across 20 locations in London and the UK during the month of November. 

Each winter warmer pack contained a rucksack, hoodie, t-shirt, thermals (top and bottom) thermal socks (three pairs), winter gloves, woolly hat, underwear (three pairs), deodorant, wet wipes, shower gel, toothbrush, toothpaste, face masks, hand sanitizers and a hot water bottle with fleece cover. 

Image Credit: Hand on Heart

Hand on Heart’s co-founder Afzal Pradhan BEM said, “When Hand on Heart became an official charity in early 2021, our initial aim was to help various vulnerable groups in the UK and overseas. At the same time, we wanted to inspire and support a group of volunteers to enable community engagement.” 

He continues: 

The November project is the flagship of Hand on Heart’s homeless campaigns and this year we crossed new frontiers in both locality and reach. With the help of over 300 volunteers, we assembled and distributed 1,400 Winter Warmer Packs to rough sleepers across the UK.” 

Pradhan concludes by stating: “We could not have timed it better as the country hit a severe cold snap during our outreach drives in November. In addition, with the Omricon Covid-19 variant arriving in the UK, we supplied face masks, hand sanitizers, and wipes for our guests’ safety and protection. We worked alongside 20 charities and organisations, and served in areas such as Birmingham, Southend, Luton, and Northampton in addition to London and surrounding areas. It has truly been a  humbling and remarkable achievement but could not be possible without the support of our  volunteers, donors, and key partner Beta Charitable Trust.” 

In addition to the Winter Warmer Packs, 250 sleeping bags, 60 mattresses, and blankets were distributed to rough sleepers during the freezing temperatures. 

Distribution of winter coats to Afghan evacuees

Hand on Heart collected over 150 coats from generous donors for Afghan evacuees who arrived in the UK with limited provisions. The coats were distributed with the support of Hertfordshire County Council, who has coordinated the support to Afghan evacuees arriving in Hertfordshire.

As well as the distribution of coats, Hand on Heart distributed 200 Winter Warmer Packs to the Afghan evacuees. 

Image Credit: Hand on Heart

Afzal added: “Hand on Heart is working alongside Hertfordshire County Council to support families arriving in the UK that have been impacted by the Afghanistan conflict. An appeal was launched in early December to collect coats as we approached the winter months. We were overwhelmed by the generosity. Within a very short timeframe, we received over 150 coats for men, women, and children.” 

Christmas gift bags for children in hospital

Recognising how challenging it is for children to be hospitalised during the festive period, Hand on Heart’s volunteers assembled gift bags which were distributed across five hospitals. The gift bags contained a colouring pack, pencils, stickers, and an activity/game.

Image Credit: Hand on Heart

Almost 300 Christmas gift bags were distributed across Great Ormond Street Hospital (London), Watford General Hospital (Watford), North Middlesex Hospital (Edmonton), Northwick Park Hospital (Harrow), and Whittington Hospital (Upper Holloway).  

Image Credit: Hand on Heart

Hand on Heart’s Task Force lead Dawood Iqbal added,

It is heartbreaking to see a child experience Christmas Day in a hospital ward. It was pleasing to see the spirits of NHS staff lifted when we delivered the gift bags to hospitals across London and Watford. They knew how grateful the children and their parents would be to receive their presents on Christmas morning and bring a little seasonal cheer.” 

As he reflected on the previous 12 months, Afzal shared, “During 2021, Hand on Heart reached new heights. Over 7,000 individuals have been served which included vulnerable adults and children needing support in varying circumstances. Our volunteer base allows us to operate and serve in society, as well as build strong community engagement. We hope to increase our outreach in 2022 and serve wider across the UK as we strengthen collaboration with other charities. In 2022, we will focus on forming our guest relations team so we can recognise the plight of their situation, allowing us to listen and understand their needs better.” 

Hand on Heart extend their sincerest thanks to our volunteers, partners, and donors. This includes the Dudek’s Fantasy Football Dinner where football-themed memorabilia and signed pictures were auctioned to raise donations for Hand on Heart.


You can read more about Hand on Heart on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter page @Handonheartwwp and website www.handonhearttrust.com where you can also donate.

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