A LITTLE girl’s idea to help the homeless has been rolled out by a community group.

Emilia Bish was just seven years old when she came up with a plan to give out socks full of useful items for rough sleepers last year.

Now her idea has been officially launched as the Happy Sock Appeal by Knight Support, a group which helps the homeless across Sussex.

Community manager and founder Lynne Knight said she was delighted to launch the project.

She said: “It’s such a great idea, because it’s just simply getting a pair of adult socks, putting one inside the other with other small items, and it’s the perfect size.

“These stockings will cheer so many people up, and they’re not just for Christmas – we will be giving them out until spring I hope, as people will need these items all winter.”

Lynne said the most-needed items include gloves, extra pairs of socks and wet wipes, as well as “bivy” bags or survival bags.

She said: “Bivy bags fold up small, and you put them over the top of sleeping bags to keep the rain out and the heat in, which is a life-saver in the winter.”

Emila’s mum Jo Bish, 45, said she wasn’t surprised when her daughter came up with the idea.

Jo, who lives in Patcham, Brighton, said: “I gave her a £5 budget to buy a Christmas present for someone she didn’t know – possibly a neighbour, or a donation to a food bank, or anything she could think of.

“She went very quiet for a minute, which is unusual, and then asked how many pairs of socks she could buy with £5, because she wanted to give them to the people sitting outside shops.

“I wasn’t surprised as she’s very caring – she’s the sort of child who will stop and say hello to people on the street.”

Jo said the idea grew quickly, as Emilia created a poster and they visited some local businesses who agreed to act as collection points for sock donations, including the Ladies Mile pub in Patcham.

She said: “I thought we might get a dozen or so, but the number of socks grew, so I contacted Lynne to see if she could help distribute them.”

Jo said she is very proud of Emilia for coming up with the idea.

“She’s really happy about the thought that the project could reach hundreds or people in the future.”

Knight Support will be collecting sock donations at venues across Sussex throughout the winter.

A full list of the collection points is on their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/knightsupport.