As the temperature dropped below freezing last night and we got the first snow of winter, in a large old warehouse space now used for events and a popular night market, around 90 brave, foolish, mad, caring and lovely souls got in their sleeping bags and tried to (in some cases very successfully, Mr Banks) get some sleep on a very hard, very cold, concrete floor.
The 6th Roundabout Sleep Out serves many purposes, chiefly to raise funds for this great organisation, which assists young people between 16-24 who are either homeless, or at risk of being homeless, alongside peer education, going in to schools to talk about the issues regarding homelessness in the young. Secondly it raises awareness, the more people who get involved with the sleep out, and all those who donate sponsorship money to them, are sharing the word about Roundabout all over social media, something which the charity would have loved to have had at its beginning over 40 years ago. Lastly, the Sleep Out gives the participants just a miniscule taster of the reality of homelessness and rough sleeping, yes, last night we were dry, being under cover, but we were cold. The main difference was that this morning, we can all return to a warm house, a hot shower and a comfortable bed, to catch up on the sleep we didn’t get last night. Too many people don’t have that option. We were safe, in a large group, with volunteers staying awake all night to offer cups of tea and assistance to anyone who needed it, and security guards to protect our safety and that of our belongings, for people on the streets, there’s generally no such safety, they risk assault, robbery and even their lives, every night, whatever the weather.
A large proportion of people sleeping rough will have some form of mental health issue, or a drug and /or alcohol problem, either as a result of being homeless, or the catalyst for being homeless, and we’re all just a small step away from this horrific outcome, by the very nature of modern life, work stresses, relationship break ups, bereavement, and just general mental illness, can place us in the vulnerable position where we have no safe port of call.
I’m lucky, I have the love and support of an army of family and friends, who are all there for me whatever, so my fear of being out in the cold is infinitesimal, but not all of us are so fortunate, we don’t all have the support network around us and depression is so incredibly isolating, it would be easy to fall off the radar, to end up literally out in the cold. That’s why we need organisations like Roundabout, to offer a safety net for those who need it, to enable them to get back into a safe home, and to lead happy, productive and healthy lives.
As for me, I’ve not been sleeping much lately anyway, So I didn’t expect much last night and I was not disappointed, I managed about one and a half hours of warm ( thanks to layers and a great sleeping bag) but ridiculously uncomfortable sleep, punctuated by the usual insomnia, listening to the constant rustle and crackle of the large paper sacks that are provided to place your sleeping bag inside. I slept on top of mine, better some insulation between me and the floor than uncomfortable rustling all night long. So far I’ve raised £355 in donations, and I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart if you’ve already donated, if you haven’t but you would like to, you still can, the link will be at the end of the blog.
well, the sun is coming up, the sky looks blue, and later we’re off to Chester for a couple of nights, first, I’m off for a shower, and then I’m going to get in my own bed, and try to catch up on some sleep. see you tomorrow.
Link for my Just Giving page for Roundabout.