Ian started his career as a soldier. He was out in the field, tired, cold, and wet. The army insisted that he put on a pair of clean, dry socks each day. He didn’t realise the importance at first, but the simple pleasure of a warm pair of socks, made a great deal of difference.
He left army and joined the police force in Birmingham. Working in the city, he met a lot of homeless people. But one homeless person had a particular big impact on Ian’s life. Joe [not his real name] wasn’t a very friendly man – he caused trouble for the police and he was hard to deal with, but Ian did what he could to help him and took him the occasional chocolate bar. Over time they developed an understanding – they had mutual respect for each other.
One dark evening, Ian found himself in a deserted subway of Birmingham with a group of rowdy guys coming towards him. As a young and inexperienced police officer, Ian felt threatened and intimidated. He wondered whether to call for back up. But then, Joe stepped out of the bushes. He stood next to Ian – a sign of solidarity – and the group continued on their way. Joe slunk back into the bushes and left Ian to continue his patrols. Three weeks later, Joe was found on a cold morning, face down dead in a Birmingham fountain.
Ian was hugely inspired and affected by Joe and in 2010, he decided it was time to do something. He decided to collect socks and chocolates for homeless people. His friends and family made donations, and together they collected 500 pairs of socks, 1000 bars of chocolate and £500 that bought 60 sleeping bags. They were donated to the homeless on Christmas Day.
Socks and Chocs has now developed into a nation charity and is funding far more than simply socks and chocs.