I'm 13 and make blankets for the homeless out of old crisp packetsMarch 12, 2023
I ran the iron over the greaseproof paper, holding it in place for a few seconds.
After, I lifted it up and held up the utterly unique blanket made of crisp packets underneath.
It had taken me an hour and a half to complete on my weekend but I wasn’t done – far from it. I wanted to make at least one more before the day was out.
Because I was bagging up these blankets, along with toothbrushes, toothpaste, biscuits, socks and gloves, and donating them to homeless charities all over the UK. I’d even made some for people in the Ukraine.
I’ve always been interested in charity work, ever since I was six years old. My friend used to go in for pageants and I persuaded my mum to take me along in 2016.
There, at the Little Miss Worldwide pageant, I quickly realised it wasn’t just about looking pretty or walking down catwalks in long dresses. A huge part of it was charity work and volunteering.
I immediately threw myself into it, making dog poo bag dispensers with my big brother, Connor, inspired by a programme that I’d seen on the television.
We’d cut the ends off used plastic bottles, fill them with thin plastic bags and attach them to posts around our local park, with a note saying ‘If you’ve forgotten your bag and you need to clean up after your dog, please take one.’
And that was only the start.
We held raffles and tombolas at the annual school fair to raise money for charity and we spent weekends packing bags in Tesco to raise money for Ronald McDonald House and The Sick Children’s Trust – we made £8,000!
We joined in local litter picks, and I even organised two of my own, to clean up the beach.
As the years passed, I loved helping our local community – and cleaning up the environment.
It was in 2021, during lockdown, that I came across a charity in England who were transforming empty crisp packets into blankets for homeless people.
These blankets were ideal, as they were lightweight and surprisingly warm. And they also used up old crisp packets, which were hard to recycle. It was a win-win.
So I followed the video on YouTube and washed the crisp packets thoroughly before lining them up carefully, covering them with clear plastic bags and ironing them through greaseproof paper to fuse them together.
I couldn’t believe how easy it was! I added some extra items into a survival bag and there it was – job done!
At first my mum, Darlene, helped me buy the items herself but when she realised I had no intention of stopping, we started doing fundraisers and organising raffles to raise the money to buy the items to go into the bags.
Tesco even helped us by allowing us to go in with collection buckets and putting up collection points for crisp packets – it took 44 to make a blanket, so there was no way I could eat that many myself! Some people even donated biscuits for the survival bags.
I entered the Miss Royal UK pre-teen beauty pageant in July 2022 and during my interview, I told the judges all about my passion for the environment and what I was doing to help it. They were so impressed, I came first!
This July, I will be going out to Florida to compete in the Royal International Pageant, where I’ll get to spread my message even further and be able to encourage more young people to do more about the environment.
That is my main ambition – to encourage other people, especially young people, to do their bit for the environment. Because even though I’m doing what I can, we all need to work together in order to make a real difference.
In the colder months and in the lead up to Christmas last year I was busier than ever. I started adding in chocolates, puzzle books and scarves, to make the bags a bit more festive before sending them off to homeless charities around the UK.
As I’d put on my thick, cosy winter coat to go to school, I couldn’t imagine spending all day outside and not having a comfortable place to keep warm. It just made me more determined to keep going.
Because I’m 13 and still at school, I try to make one on weekday evenings, and two on a weekend. My teachers are incredibly supportive, and Mum always makes sure that I have done my homework first!
Now, I’ve made over 300 blankets and bags to give out – but there’s no way I’m stopping yet. There are so many homeless people out there and I want to help as many as I can.
Earlier this year, Mum told me I had been nominated for a Child of Wales Award – I couldn’t believe it! We still don’t know who put my name forward but it’s so exciting.
It’s really nice that someone has recognised my work, but it also means that more people will hear about what I’m doing and it might inspire them to do something similar. Our world is so important and we need to take as good care of it – and each other – as we can.
The Principality Building Society Child of Wales Awards recognise the incredible achievements of amazing children and young people from across Wales, while raising vital funds for children’s charities Ty Hafan & Hope House Ty Gobaith.
As told to Sarah Whiteley
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