GENEROUS volunteers handed out hundreds of rucksacks filled with emergency supplies for homeless people.

The Rucksack Project saw hundreds of rough sleepers and those in temporary housing, queuing up at the Clock Tower for a plate of warm food and a dry pair of boots yesterday.

Those with nothing at all to their names took only what they needed.

Shane Gates, 55, who was found a place to live recently after 14-and-a-half years on the streets said the only thing he needed was a dry pair of boots, leaving the backpacks filled with emergency supplies – thermal blankets, food rations, warm layers and toiletries – for those in greater need.

The dozens who turned up at the Clocktower at lunchtime thanked organiser Jim Deans and his team of volunteers for the vital lifeline they provide.

Jim said: “I was homeless when I first came to Brighton 33 years ago. People helped me, and coming from Glasgow I never expected to get any help, so I want to help them back.

“Front line workers in Brighton and Hove have seen the number of homeless people treble in recent years, but official services haven’t seen the same rise, meaning there is a large number of hidden homeless people.

“There are a lot of vulnerable people who are not getting help from services and they just want something warm to eat and some basic provisions.

“I have been helping homeless people for 30 odd years.

“Without a doubt it is worse than it has ever been

Shane, who became homeless suffering from a gambling problem before getting involved in drugs, said he owed his life to Jim and others like him.

“I would never have survived that long on the streets if it wasn’t for people like him,” he said.

“The council kept sending me to Eastbourne. Eastbourne would send me back. The police kept moving me on for begging. But Jim is here every Sunday. “

Paul, managed to get himself on to a catering course at City College, whilst sleeping in the doorway of French Connection in East Street.

But despite his efforts to try and improve his life he has not yet been able find work.

He said: “People say, ‘You need to sort your life out to get off the streets’. I’m doing everything I can but I need someone to give me a chance.”

“people think because you’re on the streets you’re a bum, you’re a junkie. I have been a junkie, a crack head, a smack head, you name it I did it, but not any more.”

The Rucksack project encourages people to donate essential items to help people on the streets.

The rucksacks and boots were collected in Portsmouth by the Rucksack Project and food was donated by Booker wholesalers and Tesco to give those on the streets something warm in their stomachs on a bitterly cold November day.