"Sleep rough so others don't have to..."
A village made of cardboard shelters will emerge on outside Holy Trinity Church in Wimbledon, when participants in this year's Sleep Easy set up their homes for the night on March 6.
This will be the sixth year that YMCA London South West, in partnership with the Everyday Church and Faith in Action, invite people to ‘sleep rough so others don’t have to’.
According to a quarterly survey conducted by The Greater London Authority (GLA), 2,565 people were recorded as sleeping rough in London on any one single night between October and December 2014. This was an increase of 13% on the same period last year.
In 2015, the Sleep Easy organisers hope to have the biggest gathering of ‘rough sleepers’ in the history of the event, which also takes place in Kingston's Memorial Gardens. They hope up to 250 people will take part.
Starting at 7pm and finishing with breakfast at 6am the next morning, the event is only £10 for adults and £5 for under 18's.
For this sum participants get their own Sleep Easy beanie hat, hot drinks, soup and breakfast. There will be a wide variety of activities taking place during the night, including entertainment, games and a shelter building competition.
During the last five years, Sleep Easy has raised almost £70,000 and in total 600 people have attended the events. Last year, 160 people took part.
Matthew Campbell (pictured above), aged 24, is one of the participants taking part in the event. 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 LSW, Matthew got himself back on track. He is now studying for a degree in Youth Work at university. Recently he was awarded Youth Ambassador of the Year in the South East region for the Prince’s Trust, a charity he came in contact with through the YMCA.
For two years, Matthew has been housed through the YMCA LSW Supported Lodgings Scheme which places young people aged 16-26 with a host family with a spare room to rent out. He 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".
Ruth Mandry is a Surbiton resident who has taken part in several Sleep Easy events over the last years. She said: "Even though it was a little bit creepy with the gravestones, I loved the surrealness and spectacle of building a cardboard village in the Memorial Gardens.
"I also truly enjoyed the different activities that were put on for the night. The best thing about it, however, was that it gave me a very real idea about what it would be like to have to stay outdoors every night. Taking part truly made me realise how intimidating, scary and cold it would be to be homeless".
Sarah Ward, Fundraising Officer at YMCA LSW, said: "Sleep Easy is a really enjoyable and challenging event, but has a huge impact on people who are not as fortunate as those taking part".
The money raised 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.
Read more about Sleep Easy here.
February 26, 2015