A former rough sleeper is calling for donations to distribute to Croydon’s homeless at a special event this Christmas.

Jack Percival, 24, has been gathering supplies and sorting them into packages to give away at East Croydon station on December 23, where there will also be free food, tea and even haircuts for homeless people.

Since Mr Percival put the word out on social media, he’s been overwhelmed by donations and offers from volunteers. Practical items such as sleeping bags, hygiene kits and clothes have been streaming in, as well as food for his cook-up.

Mr Percival, who lives in New Addington with his partner and four-year-old son, spent six months on the streets of Croydon when he was 17 after he fell out with his parents.

Having now found employment as a golf course greenkeeper and a home of his own, he wants to help other people escape the cycle of homelessness.

He said: “Having experienced homelessness myself, I feel it’s really important to give back.

“I was sleeping on the streets a bit, sometimes sofa surfing. It was throughout the winter, frosty and cold, really the worst time of year.

“I got to the point where I couldn’t do it anymore, and luckily the family of a school friend took me in and looked after me.”

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Hygeine supplies

Reluctant to be the focus of attention, Mr Percival at first wasn’t sure about going public with his project.

“I always do my bit to help homeless people, so initially I was reluctant to put out a call for help,’ he said.

“But the generosity of everyone has been truly humbling. I’ve had no charity backing. My plan is to feed at least 50 people and give each a package to take away with them.

“I’ve had 30 volunteers so far and been swamped by donations – please keep them coming!”

Already he has received over 300 sanitary towels, 33 sleeping bags, 35 hot water bottles and two tents, along with plenty other items.

Fortunately his employer, Chipstead golf club, have been helping him store his ever increasing collection.

Over 30 people have volunteered to chip in at the event. Three barbers will be giving out free cuts, a tea hut will be keeping people warm and a pizza van will offer free food.

The event will begin at 5pm on December 23 near East Croydon Station, at the corner of Boxpark. Mr Percival has already been spreading the word on the streets and asks anyone passing homeless people in the area to let them know.

If you want to donate or volunteer, contact Mr Percival on twitter: https://twitter.com/jackpercival99