2015 – Fantastic Year

Well what a wonderful year 2015 was for Socks and Chocs.

It was particularly fabulous because many many schools and groups got involved to make a difference. Thank you all.

2015 saw the following items out to homeless centres nationally (Numbers include people inspired by Socks and Chocs and delivering stuff locally to where they live):

13041 Pairs of Socks

7377 Large Boxes of Chocolates (Or 6 x individual bars)

575 Sleeping Bags

4507 Misc items such as Hats/Gloves/Scarves etc.


If you do prefer to donate cash, we can use that to buy sleeping bags or other target items.  You can text donate.  The team do not get paid for what they do and they do not claim expenses.   Socks and Chocs has unavoidable outgoings to keep the charity legal (insurance, training costs, accountancy fees etc).  Apart from these necessary fees all other money donated is spent on items needed and requested by the homeless centres we work with.

If you want to donate anything by text then you simply text the word SOCK08 £2 to 70070 (obviously substitute the “2” for the amount you wish to donate.  Thank you.

Thank you all once again.


New Year’s Honours List 2016

New Years Honours List – Ian Northcott BEM

I am honoured and more than a little bit embarrassed that I have been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) as part of the New Years Honours List 2016. I am not sure I deserve it.

The London Gazette lists it as:

“Ian Robert Northcott, lately Police Constable, West Midlands Police. For services to the community particularly Homeless People in the West Midlands”.



I am pleased that the police work has been mentioned but in my opinion awards should only be for things you do out of paid employment. Therefore I am chuffed to bits that www.socksandchocs.co.uk has been recognised as helping people who are homeless, now nationally as well as in West Mids.

I am delighted to accept this award on behalf of my close Socks & Chocs team; Rosie, Kate, Lesley W, Cathy and Rob. (You are all fab).

It would be wrong of me not to thank past members of Socks & Chocs who all helped along the way; Tony, Les B and Mara. Good luck in your new ventures.

Special helpers include; Ness, Nicky and Brian & David (my father and father in law) who act as the logistics team. Dad will wake up tomorrow very proud I think.

There are more people to thank and that is YOU LOT.

I must also thank my wife Liz as she puts up with me constantly taking calls, answering emails and spending nearly all my spare time trying to make Socks & Chocs a success. Thank you.

Socks & Chocs does not work unless we all adopt the mantra “Lots of people doing a little is better than a few doing a lot!” We have certainly done that in 2015 with many many more people, all over the UK, getting involved. Thank you.

We need people to help us with collections this year so if you are willing to drive around for us do get in touch. We don’t pay expenses as we do what we do because we can and because we want to.

You all know that in 2015 we became a registered charity. I am very proud of this. Lesley and I worked for months to make this happen. We are about inspiring people to collect Socks & Chocs and donate them to homeless centres. If we do get cash, however, we can use the money to buy homeless centres what they need and get it delivered direct. Feel free to text donate if you like. (I am doing a sponsored no alcohol for January to help www.socksandchocs.co.uk ). Please considerwww.socksandchocs.co.uk for your charity if you are doing any sponsored event as we don’t pay staff or have vehicles, premises or anything. The money goes where it should – on target items. We can’t be anymore of a charity.

Anyway, thank you all for your support and I hopewww.socksandchocs.co.uk has inspired you to do your bit.

Please share this message and follow us on Twitter @buskingbobby and @socksandchocs it get in touch via email socksandchocs@yahoo.co.uk

Together we can make 2016 better in some way. We can’t change the world but we can change someone’s world. Please be part ofwww.socksandchocs.co.uk in 2016.


2015 Going Really Well

I cannot begin to thank everyone enough who has taken our initiative to heart.

This year more than any before has seen schools, colleges, work places, companies and supermarkets all doing their bit for us.

It is fantastic to witness.

I will update you more in the early part of next year but for now – Thank you.


Text Giving

As Socks and Chocs group is now registered we can have a text giving account through Just Giving and Vodaphone (free from commission).

This is really useful for the many people who contact us who can’t, or don’t want to run a collection. It also helps all the people who are running marathons and other sponsored events and who need someway of collecting the donations as they compete in the event.

You all know we really want to inspire people but any cash that is donated goes direct to our aims (only a small amount for admin to keep us legal such as insurance etc).

If you want to donate anything by text then you simply text the word SOCK08 £2 to 70070 (obviously substitute the “2” for the amount you wish to donate.

We will be spending any money on target items including socks, underwear and sleeping bags. We will also use some of it to help us with our B and B idea.

“Lots of people doing a little bit is better than a few doing a lot”.

Please share this everywhere.


Socks and Chocs Group Now Registered

It is with great pleasure that I can tell you that Socks and Chocs is now on the Register of Charities.

Registered Charity Number: 1163236

I am very proud of the team and wish to thank you all for your continuing support.

Celebrity Patron Rebecca Newman

Dear all,
Last Saturday I had the pleasure to meet with Rebecca Newman, The People’s Soprano.  She is a lovely lady and has the most amazing voice.
I am overwhelmed that she wants to support Socks and Chocs and what follows is a press release that I have forwarded to media outlets.
I am very excited.
Chart Topping “People’s Soprano” Rebecca Newman gets behind West Midlands Homeless Charity.
Rebecca appeals for local choirs to join her community single project to raise awareness for the charity this year and put the charity into the national spotlight.
The former busker who made history last September as the first unsigned soprano to top the Official UK Classical Music Chart has announced she is to become patron of, Socks and Chocs, a West Midlands based charity that helps the homeless as Christmas time.
Rebecca says “as a busker, homelessness was something I was regularly in contact with so it is a subject close to my heart. Ian and I have been in contact for over 18 months now so when he recently asked me to be patron of his charity I wholeheartedly agreed, but on the condition that I wouldn’t just be a figurehead, I wanted to get stuck in to help raise the profile of the charity, something music can do very well. I have raised over £11,000 for my designated charities in recent years but I take the role of patron very seriously and am looking forward to helping to take the campaign out to the rest of the UK.”
The charity was founded by Ian Northcott in 2010, who famously became known as Brum’s Busking Bobby after a video of him playing a busker’s guitar went viral. When Ian was touched by the death of a homeless, whom he had befriended, on a winter’s night he set up a charity to give out socks and bars of chocolates to homeless people at Christmas time. The first year they collected 1000 pairs of socks. By 2013 that had reached 8500. Ian has since been recognised for his work, including receiving the Pride of Birmingham Award in 2014.
Rebecca, who has become affectionately known as The People’s Soprano, is currently on tour with the UK’s best selling classical artist, Russell Watson, and has appeared on national TV and radio several times since the album release. She achieved her No1 status with ‘old school’ tactics over almost 10 years of busking and performing, raising the funds directly from her fan base to record an album with a live orchestra, realising a long held dream of hers. Quite appropriately, the album is named after her self-penned track Dare to Dream.
She says “in a world obsessed with reality TV stars and highly paid footballers I wanted to write a song that focused on all of us and what our own individual dreams are. It is supposed to be a ‘musical hug’ for days when you feel unsure and need some reassurance to believe in yourself and your own goals. It doesn’t matter how humble you think your dreams are, they are yours and yours alone to cherish.”
Rebecca first got involved with helping the charity in 2013 by agreeing to record her own version Ian’s song “Pleasure”, that highlights the plight of homeless people. Ian says “Rebecca is a perfect fit for our charity because of her background working on the streets as a musician and in care work when she was a young adult. It was clear she instantly understood what the charity was trying to do and had a real appreciation about a lot of the issues surrounding homelessness, like ex-forces personnel, mental illness and victims of abuse.
The charity is not just about offering practical help to homeless people, by giving out socks and other winter essentials, and offering comfort, by giving out chocolates, it’s about breaking down the barriers and confronting prejudices and taboos surrounding homeless people.”
Rebecca says “I am planning to do a collection at my next concert in the area – at Lichfield Garrick Theatre on 16th July – to officially launch my role as patron. This month I am starting a special project that will run until Christmas to create a musical community campaign that will help to take the message of Socks and Chocs out to the rest of the UK. I’m hoping fans of mine all over the country will get involved by doing collections in their area. The best thing about this campaign is it’s not just asking for money, it’s about creating a new Christmas tradition that can really make a difference to people’s lives.
We are appealing now for choirs to be involved in the project so anyone interested can contact me at choirs@rebeccanewman.co.uk and they will be given more information.”
Rebecca says “I love Ian’s motto that ‘a lot of people doing a little, is better than a few people doing a lot’. I have a great fan base full of loyal, warm and wonderful people, who often refer to themselves as ‘Newmaneers’. Quite a few like knitting so if some of them fancy getting involved by knitting socks, scarves and hats to add to the collections perhaps we will need to rename them ‘Newmanknitters’?”
For those wishing to donate socks, sleeping bags, scarves or hats to the campaign can check the charity’s website for collection points. Alternatively, to get an autographed photo with personal ‘thank you’ message from Rebecca bring your donation along to The Lichfield Garrick Theatre on the evening of 16th July before Rebecca’s concert begins at 7.30pm. Items should be new and unused.
Busking Bobby Video:  https://youtu.be/FQPJIltxOh4
Rebecca Newman on Songs of Praise: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fv1KB_nbLMA
Rebecca Newman ‘The People’s Anthem’ Community Song Video: https://youtu.be/RQVvx_3L4_g
Rebecca Newman Dare to Dream Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zf2uXc_Qw8o
“[Dare to Dream is] a lovely collection of songs” – Michael Ball, on BBC Radio 2
“Stunning.. I’m starstruck” – Diane Louise Jordan, on BBC Radio 2
“A fantastic soprano” – Aled Jones, Singer & TV Presenter

“An amazing voice” – Harry Gration, BBC Television
“Easily one of the best voices around” – Adam Thomlinson, BBC Radio
“Outstanding… truly breathtaking” – The Evening Press
“An amazing talent” – Lenny Henry, Actor & Comedian
Thank you.



Adil Ray has agreed to support the Birmingham based charity Socks and Chocs  which collects socks, chocolates, sleeping bags and underwear to give to homeless centres in the West Midlands and nationally.

The initiative was started in 2010 by Ian Northcott after the former policeman wanted to do something to help people who find themselves homeless. In that year the team raised about 1000 pairs of socks for the Birmingham Christmas Shelter.  The initiative grew slowly taking in Wolverhampton and Coventry until in 2013 an extraordinary thing happened.

Ian was on duty in full uniform in Birmingham and borrowed a buskers guitar to belt out an Oasis hit to a massive crowd.  This was caught on camera and was viewed over 750000 times worldwide.  The resulting exposure, as Brum’s Busking Bobby, took the socks count up to 8500 in 2013.

2014 saw Ian receiving a Point of Light Award from the PM and being honoured to receive a Pride of Brum award.  This highlighted the work of Socks and Chocs and in that year Socks and Chocs inspired the donations of over 17000 pairs of socks, 21000 large bars or boxes of chocolate, nearly 600 sleeping bags and nearly 3000 other items such as hats, gloves and underwear.

Adil said “What impressed me the most about Socks and Chocs is the fact that they want to inspire local communities to do their bit and none of the team claim any salary or expenses whatsoever.  They do it because they want to and because they can, so why can’t you or I?”

Omara Ashraf, a member of Ian’s team said “We are delighted Adil has agreed to support us to help with publicity”.

Going forward Socks and Chocs is hoping to fund a B and B project to get rough sleepers into short term accommodation so that they can be offered further help as well as continuing to inspire people nationally to run their own collections and take them to a homeless centre near them.

Adil joked “Rusty Lee and Jasper Carrot were obviously busy but I am delighted to help such a simple idea that can have a massive effect.  I hope to go out with the team later in the year and give them my support.  Do join me”.

Socks and Chocs need your help so please visit www.socksandchocs.co.uk for more details and remember as Ian says “Lots of people doing a little is better than a few doing a lot!”

For now Adil has only one small request “Pull your socks up and put your socks out”.

New Constitution, Crowdpatch, Storagebase and The Minister for the Civil Society

Dear all,

Yesterday I had a meeting with my fellow trustees as we needed to change our constitution slightly so that we can be registered with the Charity Commission.  We held the meeting at Storagebase, Wednesbury.  Jim the manager has given Socks and Chocs some free storage space which is amazing.  They also have a box there were you can pop in and deposit your socks and chocs for us to distribute.  Jim and his staff are also happy to receive items for us through the post.

Storagebase Wednesbury, (FAO Socks and Chocs),Axletree Way, Wednesbury, West Mids, WS10 9QY


Our ideals are still there just like they always were and “Objects” from our new constitution will be posted on the about Socks and Chocs part of this site.

The charity’s objects (‘the objects’) are:

The relief of those in need by reason of ill health, disability, financial hardship or other disadvantage (in the West Midlands and otherwise in England and Wales) by collecting (and buying) and distributing collections of Socks and Chocolates, sleeping bags, underwear and other items requested by partner agencies and as agreed by the management committee.

The advancement of health and saving lives by buying and distributing socks and chocolates and other target items to established homeless centres (in the West Midlands and otherwise in England and Wales) in order that those in need can benefit.

The relief of those in need by reason of ill health, disability, financial hardship or other disadvantage (in The West Midlands and otherwise in England and Wales) by funding short term emergency accommodation particularly (but not limited to) times of cold or otherwise inclement weather.

The relief of those in need by reason of ill health, disability, financial hardship or other disadvantage (in The West Midlands and otherwise in England and Wales) by funding the professional services of footcare and other health professionals.

The advancement of citizenship by inspiring people to help those in need in their own communities by organising collections and donating to established homeless centres.

You will notice that we are looking at running a pilot to fund short term B and B accommodation for people in December and January.  For this we do need money and so we have set up a Crowdpatch site http://www.crowdpatch.net/communityinvestors/1743/homeless-bed-breakfast-project/ to help us with this.  Rest assured Socks and Chocs is usually not after money – we want to inspire you to collect socks and chocs, sleeping bags and underwear and donate direct to a homeless centre near you.  That said we feel this project is worthwhile.

I am delighted to tell you that Adil Ray, Mr Khan from the BBC series Citizen Khan is now a supporter of Socks and Chocs.  I will post the press release as a seperate post.

Minister for the Civil Society

Ian discussed Socks and Chocs with the Minister for the Civil Society on 3rd June. It was a very interesting chat and was concerned with how to get more volunteers to build a better society.

Please keep collecting and supporting Socks and Chocs so that we can really make a difference.


B and B Idea, Fitness Challenge and Jersey.

Socks and Chocs is looking at the possibility of securing and funding short term B and B accommodation so that people can have a safe nights sleep off the streets.  At the same time giving outreach workers the chance to speak to the people and offer further help as needed.

The idea is in it’s infancy at the moment and if anyone wants to help make this happen then please think about sponsoring me for the fitness challenge on 11 May 15.


Of course, running your own collection of socks and chocs is equally important so please continue doing that for us.

BBC Jersey spoke to us about Sanctuary House in Jersey to see if we could help them.  Obviously we can but remember that one of Socks and Chocs’ aims is to promote the collections in communities to help their own area.  So Jersey what can you do to help Sanctuary House?

Thank you all again for supporting Socks and Chocs.



AGM 11 Mar 15

At our recent AGM it was carried unanimously that Socks and Chocs would register as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO).  This would mean we would be registered with the charity commission and Socks and Chocs would be issued a charity number.

I will keep you posted here about when this actually happens.

All monies will be carried over and the good work of Socks and Chocs will continue.

As you know, up until this point any money donated to Socks and Chocs was spent only on target items.  As a CIO we have certain unavoidable outgoings such as insurance costs, accountancy fees and other fees just to keep us legal.  (It is not free to set up a charity).  The pledge from the Trustees of Socks and Chocs is that these costs will be kept to a minimum so that maximum help can be given to those in need.  The trustees and volunteers of Socks and Chocs do not get paid a salary and they do not get paid expenses.  This will continue to be the case as we do what we can because we can and because we want to.

The three trustees Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary will ensure that the constitution is adhered to and reserve the right to spend the money as they see fit to further the charitable causes outlined in the constitution.

I am very proud of my team who all give their time and effort to making this work.