Did you know more than 150,000 young people ask for help with homelessness every year? It doesn’t bear thinking about does it? But the thing is, we do have to think about it, and not just think, but also act.
I think it’s fair to assume that most of us are lucky enough not to know what it feels like to sleep rough. But some young people are forced to sleep rough every night – in parks, stairwells, under bridges, and worse. But there are thousands more you don’t see – spending the night on buses, on sofas, or in the homes of strangers. Many are homeless because they can’t live with their family, or they have no family. Due to violence, abuse, gangs, drugs, and problems with mental health, young people often become homeless because it’s safer to leave home than to stay.
As a member of ANS’ CSR Team, when our partners, VMWare invited us to take part in the Big Sleep Out 2017 in aid of Centrepoint, I knew this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. Given this was a huge opportunity to raise not only loads of cash, but also awareness, I opened up the invitation to the rest of the sales guys in the ANS London office. They all jumped at the opportunity and the donations started to roll in. So on Thursday 25th May, the ANS London sales team joined VMWare, Avnet and Pulse and bedded down in the VMWare car park. Now, as a tightly controlled and insured charity event, we were restricted by various regulations which meant couldn’t just sleep in a doorway in the centre of London so I’m not going to pretend we were there to emulate the reality of living the streets, like I said, we were kipping in the VMWare car park after having had a few drinks and playing Connect4. I was surrounded by my mates and I was sleeping in a sleeping bag on a relatively mild spring evening so I had very little to moan about but having said that, I certainly didn’t have a sound sleep.
It had been quite a warm day, but as soon as the sun set it got considerably chillier and noisy! We were in the centre of Staines and were pretty close to the train station, main roads and 24 hour shops which made it difficult to sleep and when I did eventually get to sleep the sun woke me up at 4:30am! What we all gained from this though, is a new-found appreciation for our beds and our homes. We were only experiencing a fraction of the reality of living on the streets and we all agreed that even one night in the open air was almost unbearable.
Thank you to everyone who helped us to raise £1,315.00(!!!) for Centrepoint. Our initial target was £250 and thanks to you, we managed to absolutely smash it! Your donations will enable Centrepoint to support even more homeless people by helping them get accommodation, tackle physical and mental health issues, teach basic life skills, and get them back into education, training, or a job. We’d also like to thank VMWare for inviting us to take part. We are always looking for new ways to support our vendors in return for the exceptional support they give to us.
For more information, or to find out how you or your organisation can host your own Sleep Out click here.