'Rough sleepers' will gather in the town centre on a February night
Have you ever thought about how it feels to not have a safe house and a comfy bed to go to when night-time comes? How would you keep warm? Where would you go, and what would you eat?
On Friday February 26 you will get a chance to experience how it feels like, having to spend the night sleeping out, when the Sleep Easy fundraising challenge returns to the Holy Trinity Church in Wimbledon.
This will be the seventh year that YMCA London South West in partnership with the local churches invites people to ‘sleep rough so others don’t have to’.
In 2016, they hope to have the biggest gathering of ‘rough sleepers’ in the history of the Sleep Easy event, with up to 250 people turning up in Wimbledon and Kingston to show they care for vulnerable people in their community.
New this year is the option to choose between taking part in the ‘classic’ Sleep Easy event or to go for a new and tougher ‘extreme’ version where you will really get to feel how challenging a night of sleeping rough can be… Also added, is a third option of ‘Sleep Easy sofa surf’ for the children, where you can take part by organising a sleep over in your own home or at a friend’s house.
All three versions will be starting at 7pm and finishing with breakfast at 6am the next morning. Early bird entry fee until 10 January 2016 is only £10 for Sleep Easy Classic (£5 for 12-17 year olds), and £15 for the Sleep Easy Extreme (over 17s only). Sleep Easy Sofa Surf is free.
For this entry fee, participants in both the ‘classic’ and ‘extreme’ version get a Sleep Easy beanie hat, hot drinks, soup and breakfast.
Last year, 160 people turned up to show they cared for vulnerable people in their community in Wimbledon and Kingston.
One of them, Matthew Campbell, aged 25, is a former resident at a YMCA hostel in south west London. Some years ago, he became homeless and had to sleep rough. He said: “When school ended I didn’t really know what to do. I kind of just drifted, and found myself without anywhere to go or anything to do. Becoming homeless was an eye opener, that’s when I realised I needed to get myself sorted out.”
With the help of YMCA London South West, Matthew got himself back on track. He is now studying for a degree in Youth Work at university.
For over three years, Matthew has been housed through the YMCA LSW Young People’s Supported Lodgings Scheme which places young people aged 16-25 with a host family with a spare room to rent out. Matthew said:
“The YMCA has helped me a great deal. It has given me the stability I need to complete my studies and has helped me progress in life. My host family is wonderful and has been very supportive.”
By taking part in Sleep Easy 2016 and raising sponsorship money from friends, family and colleagues for your night ‘sleeping rough’, you will be supporting YMCA London South West’s work with young homeless people like Matthew.
Sleep Easy is also a great team building and social event, perfect for church groups, scouts and other community groups. Throughout the event, there will be a wide variety of activities taking place, including entertainment, games and a shelter building competition.
Sarah Ward, Fundraising Officer at YMCA LSW, said: “Sleep Easy is a really enjoyable and challenging event, but also has a huge impact on people who are not as fortunate as those taking part.”
Sleep Easy is a national YMCA fundraising initiative raising money to help change the lives of vulnerable homeless people across England. Since the event began in 2010, over £1million pounds have been raised by thousands of people who chose to sleep rough for one night.
The money raised at the Kingston and Wimbledon events will go to the Merton Winter Night Shelter for homeless people and towards YMCA LSW’s work with homeless people in the boroughs of Merton and Kingston.
For full details, visit: http://www.ymcalsw.org/sleep-easy/
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December 29, 2015