Being part of the UK’s fire and rescue service brings a deserved sense of pride and belonging – you really are part of a family – and that’s what inspired Phil Maynard, a now-retired Station Manager with West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, to start his own charitable venture in August 2020.

Phil began to supply badged hoodies to his colleagues, from firefighters through to Control Room staff and immediate family members.

The demand for these hoodies from other fire and rescue services quickly grew, so the non-for-profit organisation Helping Hoodies was established as way to support the health and wellbeing of people working in the fire services community.

This inspirational idea has achieved remarkable results. Over 5,000 hoodies have been sold to date and, by donating 100% of profits from the sale of each hoodie to us, Phil’s managed to donate over £25,000 so far – an incredible amount.

“About 15 or 20 years ago in West Sussex we used to sell hoodies to our staff with the badge on, and we gave the proceeds to Charity,” says Phil. “That fizzled out and I wanted to reinvigorate it and bring pride back into our service.

“I think it’s important that we have a sense of belonging, it’s a natural human trait, we’re tribal creatures, and I think that a badge signifies that in our services.

“I thought I’d sell roughly 20 hoodies to West Sussex and that would be it, job done, but I realised quite quickly that 20 hoodies wouldn’t give much of a donation to the Charity so I asked other services and people I knew if they’d come onboard. It’s snowballed from then.

“We’ve now got more than 40 different organisations onboard and shipping out as far as the Cayman Islands. We’ve sold over 5,000 hoodies to date.

“It really is humbling that so many have taken this project to heart and trusted me with their business, in turn supporting the charity and enabling us to make some significant donations. I would love to have every service in the country on board.”

As Helping Hoodies has grown, we’ve now begun helping Phil with the distribution of the stock – particularly since he started out working and packing them up from his own kitchen. He now drops the hoodies at Marine Court, our centre in West Sussex, and our dedicated team with distribute them out from there.

To make an order

If you’d like to purchase badged hoodies, Helping Hoodies will require permission from your service to use the badge, and agreement to participate in the project.

Just visit the Helping Hoodies website to find out more and you can also use the chat function there to speak to Phil directly, if you have any questions.

We’re delighted to be supported by Helping Hoodies on this exciting venture. For more information visit the Helping Hoodies website and follow Helping Hoodies on Instagram here and on Twitter here.