Council Housing Boss Joins Charity Rough Sleepers

YMCA aims to raise £10,000 with Sleep Easy event

More than 150 people across Wimbledon and Kingston braved the cold and 'slept rough so others don’t have to' on what turned out to be the biggest Sleep Easy event in South West London yet.

They were taking part in YMCA London South West's fifth Sleep Easy - the third in Wimbledon - where participants spent a night sleeping outside to raise funds for the charity’s work with homeless people in the boroughs of Merton and Kingston. 

So far, online sponsorship for the event on January 25 stands at more than £9,100. However, as the Fundraising Champions pages will still be open for donations until February 28, the charity is hoping to reach £10,000 raised in this year’s event.

Among those sleeping out in Wimbledon town centre was Simon Williams (right), Housing Director of Merton Council. He said: "I had the chance to talk to quite a few YMCA staff, volunteers from faith groups, and a couple of YMCA residents.

"It was helpful to learn more about the work done by the YMCA, some of funded by the council and some not, which offers shelter every night through the winter, supports people to make any necessary changes in their lives, and offers a wider variety of ‘wellbeing’ activities."

Richard James Chief Executive of YMCA LSW opened the Wimbledon event and acted as a judge in the annual cardboard shelter building competition. He said: "We are really grateful for everyone’s efforts in sleeping out and fundraising for YMCA LSW. With the monies raised we will be able to support our partners Kingston Churches Action on Homelessness and Faith in Action as well as help even more young people at the YMCA with a resettlement grant that enables them as they move on from the hostel.

"These grants are used to buy items such as pots, mattresses, and fridges and anything else that will help give them the best possible start as they move into more independent living".

Debbie Camp, Director of Fundraising and Communications at YMCA LSW, said of the event: "Sleep Easy 2014 was a huge success and our biggest yet! So thank you all for supporting us throughout the night.

"Access Storage provided everyone with a 'shelter' for the night – a cardboard box! One of their colleagues even slept out too. Helen and Steve Brett made the traditional 'Sleep Easy minestrone soup' served at midnight to keep us all warm, and M&S and Fairtrade donated goodies to keep us going all night.

"Moreover, it was great to see so many students taking part from Southborough Boys School, Marymount International School and the 23rd Camberwell Scout group."

Sleep Easy is a national YMCA fundraising event, with YMCAs up and down the country running similar events throughout the winter months, raising money for their work with homeless people in their local community.

Jannuary 31, 2014