News Editor Charlie O’Keeffe reports on a dad’s cosy coat project which is providing coats for disadvantaged children
Mark Goodall is a father of three from Sutton Coldfield. Mr. Goodall said ‘I initially launched Cosy Coats as a surprise for my mum’s 70th birthday.’ After hearing about the sacrifices his mother’s family had to make just to provide for her, he decided he needed to do something to help disadvantaged children. Neil Goldup, who teaches at Oasis Academy Short Heath, told his friend Mr. Goodall about children arriving at school with no warm shoes or coats because their family couldn’t afford them.
Pam Atwal, the school’s safeguarding leader, explained that ‘Oasis academies tend to be in deprived areas of Birmingham with 50 percent of pupils classed as in need. Some are refugees who are already feeling lost and don’t have a great deal, others are in temporary accommodation following domestic abuse.’
Mr. Goodall started by making a donation which helped Pam Atwal buy some coats for children in need. However, they didn’t want to buy cheap coats as they wanted the new winter wear to benefit the children’s self-esteem. So instead of this, the families were invited to choose the children’s coats. These coats were given to the children by their families, so the children did not know they had been donated. Mr. Goodall did a Wolf Run to raise funds.
Mr. Goodall expanded this project with a pop-up shop in New Street Station. He explained it like this ‘Pam has sent me a wish list of coats, which I’ve bought. We will have racks of these coats available for people to ‘buy’ that we can then send into schools.’ Mr. Goodall also added ‘People can write a message to put into the pocket of the coat they buy if they like.’
He also made the point that ‘We didn’t want to buy all plain blue coats as they’d be known as the free coats. This way, the children get to pick their own coat they would like and we buy it for them. Lots of kids have always had hand-me-downs, they’ve never had anything new and this is so important.’
On Monday October 3rd, Mr. Goodall set up shop. He had bought 22 coats and intended to keep the stall running for a week to get them all sold. However, within three and a half hours he had sold out. That same night, he went out to buy more. Mr. Goodall recalled how ‘One man got quite emotional. He said he liked the idea that a child next week will have a brand new coat because of his donation.’ Mr. Goodall said that ‘we’ve been blown away by how kind people have been.’