Local men in bid to help Dundee and Tayside’s homeless by handing out sleeping bags

Mark, Gary and Billy are collecting food, drinks and warm clothing to hand out to the homeless.

A group of businessmen is aiming to make sure the region’s homeless are kept warm over the festive season after launching a sleeping bag charity drive.

Billy Abbott, who runs Autoecosse Autobody in Kirriemuir, has teamed up with Big Recovery’s Gary Rooney, who works out of Du, and Mark Craig of Dundee Powder Coatings.

The group is set to dish out sleeping bags and other products to help “less fortunate” people around Dundee, Angus and Perth throughout the Christmas period.

Billy told the Tele that he was inspired to launch the campaign after a chance meeting with a homeless man in the city centre.

He said: “I was on a night out in the city centre and I came across a man and we got speaking.

“He was telling me about his life and I ended up taking him to Tesco and I just said to him to get what he needed — something to eat and a blanket etc.

“After that, I went home and I had it in my mind that I wanted to give something back.

“This time of year is hard enough as it is — especially when you are talking about the temperatures we have seen recently. I got in touch with Gary and he agreed to help me.”

The group appealed on social media, contacted businesses and managed to procure a load of sleeping bags and other products to keep people warm.

After a night-long collection drive around the city, the trio started handing out the goods on Thursday and Friday.

Billy said they plan on venturing further afield — taking in Angus and Perthshire — if they are left with unused stock.

He said: “We just want to give back as much as we can. We are lucky to be in the position we are. We own businesses and are able to help the less fortunate.

“I came from nothing myself and I am lucky to be in a comfortable position. I feel people are quick to judge — there isn’t much difference between them and us.”

Gary is no stranger to festive campaigns.

His “You Drink, We Drive” initiative, now in its second year, aims to tackle drink-driving over the festive period by offering lifts to people who have gone out and had a drink.