Buddy Bag Foundation bag pack

Our warehouse team are quite used to carrying large boxes into storage, but it’s rare we have to actually pack them ourselves. This February we teamed up with EcoMaster to pack something a little different – around 200 bags for The Buddy Bag Foundation – and to find out a little more about the work this fantastic charity does at the same time.

Buddy Bag Foundation bag pack

The Buddy Bag Foundation

Imagine that you have to leave your home without warning. You don’t have time to pack – you just go.

As a child this is an incredibly frightening experience, but it happens every day. Hundreds of children are taken into emergency accommodation by a parent, usually the mother, leaving behind everything they own and all sense of security.

The BBF aims to provide a sense of safety and normalcy to these children by providing a few essential items – the things you wouldn’t think about until you didn’t have them – like a clean pair of pyjamas and a toothbrush.

Buddy Bag Foundation bag pack

The Buddy Bag Brigade

On 15 February the team from Cookes Storage and our partners from EcoMaster, led by Paul Gresty and Jenny, joined the Buddy Bag Brigade by packing around 200 bags to be sent off to emergency refuge around the country.

The BBF holds bag packing events every month, and everyone is welcome to join in. Not knowing what to expect, we assembled together on a Friday afternoon to have an introduction by BBF founder, Karen Williams. Our bag pack was the 95th – Karen aims to hold the 100th bag pack this year.

What would you need?

It had not really occurred to us before what children might miss when they leave their homes. Friends, yes; but we’d not really thought about the need for a clean pair of underwear or a hairbrush. It might be obvious that younger children need pyjamas, but not that teenagers need deodorant and face wipes so that they can start a new school without having to worry about personal hygiene on top of everything else.

items places in Buddy Bags

All of these things have been carefully thought of for the Buddy Bags, as well as simple colouring activities to occupy younger children and give mum a rest, books for older children, and a pencil case and basic implements for school children.

Each table in the room was piled high with donated items, split by age. Our teams separated out to pack every bag – a picture frame to record a new memory, a postcard to send back to BBF, and the one vital thing in every bag –  a lovely teddy bear for comfort.

Crank up the music

Despite the importance of the work done by the BBF, a bag packing event is a friendly and relaxed day. We cranked up the music and enjoyed a change of pace from the usual working day, plus the chance to spend a bit more time with the team from Ecomaster, furniture and French polishing repair specialists.

Thank you to the BBF for inviting us to join in. We’re sure we’ll team up again for more events soon.

Buddy Bag Foundation bag pack 

TWo friends with cleaning mops sitting on sofa laughing

The weather may be hotting up, and we’re officially heading into summer. If, like us, you didn’t manage to get round to that essential spring clean, don’t worry, there’s still plenty of time.

Here’s our top tips to hack the clean so it won’t take up that valuable summer time and allow you to spend more time with friends and family.

Break it down

One of our main problems with the big annual clean is feeling overwhelmed when we start to think of all those jobs waiting to be done.

In reality, there doesn’t have to be so much to swallow if you make each task more bitesize. Make a list of everything that you want to do, then break it down. Instead of being faced with 1000 jobs, you can create lists of about ten per room that can be tackled over a number of days.

Not only will you start to see progress from the start, you’ll be spurred on to do more.

Call in help

You really don’t need to do it alone. A job shared is a job halved, after all. If you need to do a big deep clean, why not call in a local cleaner. There are plenty of small local businesses and franchisees who can help out for one off jobs, like Merry Maids here at Minworth Business Park. Of course, once you’ve seen how much easier it life becomes, we’re sure you’ll be using them for the weekly clean as well.

Alternatively, why not ask a friend or family member to help – in return for a similar favour from you. Okay, you do end up cleaning two homes, but you can have more fun while you’re hard at work.

Create a donation box

This can be quite difficult for people who like to hoard or keep sentimental items. Creating a donation box and choosing a charity that means something to you will help incentivise you to sort through everything. Knowing that everything is going to a good cause will make it far easier to be ruthless and clear things out.

Donation box of clutter for charity

Dust and bleach

If there is one thing that will make a huge difference, it’s giving your surfaces a good dust. Use a drop of bleach in water to wipe over surfaces, and not only will your home look clean, but it will smell clean too. With a lovely summer freshness to your home, you’ll end up doing more cleaning than you intended.

Declutter using the 12 month rule

Do you still have something in your bathroom, cabinet, cupboard or wardrobe that you haven’t used, worn or eaten in the past 12 months? Then the golden rule is simple. Get rid.

Styles change, food expires and clutter grows. So to clear your head, become more productive in your life and make room for more buys, be brutal and clear it out.

Finally – open those windows wide, get outside and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts!

Snuffles Hedgehog Rescue and Cookes Storage helping charity

You may already know that at Cookes we love to work with local businesses to help them grow, but you may not know that we also do what we can to support small charities as well.

It’s possibly not something you’ve thought about, but charities are often recipients of large amounts of donations, and they just don’t have the space or resources to manage them all at once. Particular times of year can get quite busy, and the winter season is one of them.

This month we’ve been pleased to help three separate charities, each of them unique and in need of some space, just for a couple of months.

Snuffles Hedgehog Rescue

Hedgehogs are synonymous of a British countryside – we all know that the prickly little creatures love to hide in leaf piles and trundle through gardens at night. However, before the team from Snuffles approached us, we were not aware that hedgehogs are endangered. There are now just under a million in the UK today – down from 36 million just 70 years ago.

Snuffles Hedgehog Rescue in Four Oaks aim to save as many injured hedgehogs as possible and help them get back into the wild. They’ve put together a fantastic website with lots of information, so you know whether the hog you found is really hurt or just out for an evening stroll. This time of year is particularly busy, as everyone starts to have garden fires just as our spiky friends are looking for cosy woodpiles to settle down and hibernate.

Local business Wheelers Timber and Builders Merchants were on hand to help the Snuffles team move into their temporary storage unit – a fantastic example of local businesses coming together to help out.

Duke of Edinburgh

In recent months we’ve seen a lot of teenagers hiking around the countryside earning their Duke of Edinburgh awards. It’s a charity aimed at helping young people achieve more. However, they also receive a large amount of donated goods and clothing, that need sorting out. We’ve been pleased to be able to offer them the space they needed.

Toys 4 Tots

While we get caught up in the frenzy of the Christmas planning, it’s easy to forget that some families just don’t have the resources. Toys4Tots UK was launched just four years ago by Matt Parkes, and is growing rapidly, collecting money and donated gifts for less fortunate children.

Not all the funds are spent on gifts though. Some is donated directly to charities that help underprivileged children to have a wonderful experience and create some happy memories, while some of the gifts are passed on to women living in refuges.

Of course, when we think about donating toys, we tend to think about smaller children, and forget that there are many teenagers also looking for a happier Christmas. So, if you would like to help out Tots4TotsUK in bringing Christmas to more homes and families living in refuges this year, take a look at Matt’s Facebook page to see how you can help.


A helping hand, when we can

 If you are a local charity and need a helping hand, then get in touch.. Unfortunately, we cannot offer space every time, or store certain items such as flammable goods, plants, perishable items or animals. But, we do consider every request, and help where we can.