Bare Necessities : how it all began

Bare Necessities is student-led project aiming to empower communities by providing basic amenities to be clean and comfortable. Find out how it began.

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About me

 I studied Modern History and Politics 2016-2019 and attained a First Class Honours Degree. Grew up in Cardiff, attending Bishop of Llandaff High School and Sixth Form before coming to University. Always loved helping people e.g. volunteering in an elderly home when I was younger, youth clubs etc. 

How I became involved with Student Volunteering

I became involved through the Oasis Refugee Centre in my second year. I attended with a friend which I really enjoyed.  I was also active in student life through mentoring, staff-student panel and ambassador roles. 

Bare Necessities

Bare Necessities is a student-led project aiming to empower communities by providing basic amenities to be clean and comfortable to support people living in poverty. I came up with the idea because England were already doing the same sort of thing, but there was nothing out there for Wales. I knew that there was something unique that I could bring to the volunteering department but was worried for a long while about how the financing of it would work. I arranged a meeting with Lauren Dovey from the Volunteering department and together we managed to get over £1000 funding for the project and I was over the moon. 

We quickly realised that with partnering with another organisation, we couldn’t achieve the Cardiff/South Wales impact that we wanted and the project’s Welsh identity was being lost.  We arranged our first meeting under another name, but brainstormed the idea with prospective volunteers. At another session, we came up with “Bare Necessities” with the tag line “empower others”. At the meetings we discussed the implications of the project and what challenges we might have come up against. 

Impact Bare Necessities has had on the community

We now partner with 11 organisations and regularly have 30 volunteers attending our sorting sessions. Lauren coordinates these and we’ve received some really lovely comments. Through personal contacts, I’ve arranged for lunch us to receive the donations collected by Escentual, a luxury beauty brand based in Splott. We’ve had literally tons of donations which we’re yet to distribute, so I’m excited to see what continued impact this can have. 

One of the proudest achievements is our partnership with the Homeless World Cup. We organised a 300-bag drop off for the Welsh male and female team. The players were really happy and it was fantastic to be a part of such a massive event. 

Impact the project has had on me

I’ve loved every minute of Bare Necessities, from designing the logo, to scheduling meetings, organising donations. I also love how it’s a flexible project for students as I know it’s difficult to find time for anything when you're so focussed on Uni. While studying it really gave me perspective which helped me a lot. At points, there has been stress (Mainly when I collected our first haul of donations which was two cars full which filled my house) but it’s always been worth it. Now working full time, I try to stay in touch when I can and it’s still a really important thing in my life. 

My plans for the future

I genuinely want to make Bare Necessities even bigger, partnering with Students Unions’ across the country to spread the impact. The homelessness/poverty crisis isn’t going away, nor is it restricted to Cardiff/South Wales. It would be great to help other people in Wales. 

My advice to you

If you have what seems like a crazy and impossible idea, like I did, then chances are it’s not crazy or impossible at all. Schedule a meeting with the student volunteering team, and they’ll walk you through how to bring your idea to life. Come to the meeting with a good idea of what you want the project to be but with the flexibility to amend it accordingly to the advice given. 

Lucy Wilkinson | Cardiff University Graduate 

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