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Stuff Your Rucksack

Stuff Your Rucksack – It’s so easy to make a difference.

‘How many times have you been travelling and visited a school or community or local charity that you would love to help? The school needs books, or a map or pencils; an orphanage needs children’s clothes or toys. All things that, if only you’d known, you could have stuffed in your rucksack but once you get home you forget, or you’ve lost the address, or worry that whatever you send will be stolen before it even gets there…’ Kate Humble

What does Stuff Your Rucksack do?

If you mean the founding members of Stuff Your Rucksack (SYR), then very little. The members of SYR are either very busy with their day jobs, or in the case of BBC’s Kate Humble, never at home.

SYR is driven by travellers who take the time to give a little feedback about charities and organisations they’ve found while travelling or on holiday, or in some cases, by the organisations themselves. It’s a user-driven site where simple, but very real needs can reach a wider audience.

The idea has two facets: the first – a person who has found an organisation that needs stuff can leave the details of that organisation on the SYR website; the second – potential visitors can visit the site to find out what simple things are needed that will make a big difference.

There is some degree of vetting that goes into deciding whether to list organisations, however SYR is clearly not able to have people ‘on the ground’ in all these countries so advises travellers to use discretion and care when visiting an organisation found through their website. The site also offers a facility to allow any users to leave feedback and a picture of their visit to encourage other people.

Stuff Your Rucksack’s ethos was very much Kate Humble’s idea. Inspired by years of travelling, particularly in poorer parts of the world, she found it frustrating to visit a school that desperately needed something as simple and easy to pack as A4 lined paper. If only she had known a few days previously, she could have slipped some in her luggage. As such, it’s always been about one-to-one help. SYR offers no fulfilment service of its own and doesn’t pretend to have all the answers or to be experts in the issues surrounding global poverty. It simply wants to connect people’s needs with other people’s thoughtfulness and generosity.

Where do they reach?

SYR’s database of organisations currently covers 64 countries spread across the world. As you’d expect, most organisations are to be found in developing countries. There are a few in places you may not expect though, so wherever you’re travelling it’s worth a quick look on the site before you leave. I was able to drop some toys in at a children’s home in Sri Lanka last Christmas, literally five minutes’ walk from the city centre. Ultimately, they are hoping to have listings in every country. Wherever people travel, there is an opportunity to help the communities.

What can people do?

Anyone travelling in the near future can help by looking at the website to see what they can take. If not, then SYR asks you to keep your eyes peeled while you’re away to see if there are any organisations that future visitors can help. Sign up at SYR on your return and list the details.