More than 300 sleep out so others don't have to
More than 300 hardy volunteers braved the cold and damp as they took part in homelessness charity Framework’s annual Big Sleep Out in Nottingham.
The charity says it was “overwhelmed and humbled” by the level of public support for the event, which took place in Bolero Square, outside the Capital FM arena, on Thursday, November 15.
A record 372 people signed up to take part in the event – a number so great that organisers were forced to close registration for the event more than a week early.
With just a cardboard shelter, a sleeping bag and extra layers of clothing at their disposal, the participants – including The Lord Mayor of Nottingham, radio presenters Dino & Pete and the Sheriff of Nottingham – experienced for a single night the stark reality of street homelessness by “sleeping out so others don’t have to.”
Framework Chief Executive Andrew Redfern said: “This event has been going in one form or another for the last 20 years – but we have never had a response quite like this.
“It is overwhelming to see so many people of all different ages and backgrounds here tonight. Sleeping in the open for a whole night takes a great deal of determination and everyone here tonight can be rightly proud of their efforts.
Street homelessness is always a last resort. It is the last stop on a terrifying and bewildering journey that is often totally beyond people’s control. By sleeping out tonight people are helping us to bring an end to that journey. Every pound they raise will help us to provide vital services that prevent people from losing their homes in the first place.
Andrew Redfern, Chief Executive
“Framework’s Big Sleep Out shows our community at its very best and I am humbled by the level of support we have received.”
Rebecca Want slept out with several colleagues from St Mary’s Primary School in Hyson Green – raising some £1,200 in the process. She said: “It is really nice to see how well supported this event has been. It’s especially nice to see so many children here tonight showing how much they care about people who are less fortunate than them. We do a lot in school to teach the children about problems all around the world, but sometimes it is nice to remember the problems that are happening much closer to home.
Box-mate Linda O’Sullivan: “Nobody should have to sleep rough in this day and age. Just doing it for one night gives you a great sense of empathy with people who have no choice and makes you realise how lucky you are. If we can prevent one person from becoming homeless then it has been worth it.”
Yvonne Cranny, was one of seven staff from The Nottingham who really got into the spirit of the Box Factor competition, judged by Capital FM’s Dino and Pete. Speaking back at work this morning she said: “We didn’t get much sleep but our box was very impressive, with UPVC windows, stunning front door and patio doors too! Despite the ‘For Sale’ board, we didn’t get any offers! It was a great experience and we’re already planning on doing it next year.”
Samantha Booth ,of Sutton-in-Ashfield, took part with her two sons, Bradley, 14, and Jack, 11. She said:
“I suppose I wanted to teach them a valuable life-lesson – that there are more important things in this world than Xboxes and big TVs. We’ve really enjoyed the atmosphere and will be back next year.”
Participants were treated to an array of interesting entertainment from local musicians and (somewhat improbably) the Jedi Warriors and Storm Troopers of the 501st UK Star Wars Garrison.
Pete, one half of Dino and Pete, said: “It’s a really great event. I didn’t quite know what to expect but the atmosphere has been amazing – everybody is so positive. It’s all for a really good cause and, really, it’s been quite inspirational.”
Dino added: “It really makes you reflect on things. We know that after this we can go home to nice central heating and our usual comforts, but we know that for some people life is not that easy.”
Lead organiser Natalie Goodrich said: “Sleeping out for a night is really not an easy thing to do. It is cold, uncomfortable and takes real commitment. I am proud that so many people feel strongly enough about the truly life-changing nature of our work to put themselves out in this way.
“The public response was overwhelming. It is truly humbling to know that our work is so well supported by so many people of all different ages and backgrounds. I really can’t thank them enough for what they are doing and the impact they will have on people’s lives. This event demonstrates the kind of community spirit that we should all be very proud of.”
Councillor Leon Unczur, Lord Mayor of Nottingham, nominated Framework as one of his two chosen charities for his year in office.
He said: “During my first six months in office I have had the opportunity to learn more about the life-changing work Framework is doing in our community. Homelessness ruins people’s lives. If by enduring a single night of discomfort I can help just one person avoid the fear and isolation that comes with becoming homeless then my efforts will have been worthwhile.”
Jason Marriott, leader of Framework’s street outreach team, engages directly with people on the streets. He explained: “Rough sleeping is dangerous and potentially life-threatening. People who sleep rough are at risk of serious ill-health, violent attack, drug and alcohol addiction, and even death.”
Last year Framework saved more than 1,400 households from the threat of homelessness.
Framework’s volunteer rough sleepers were kept thoroughly entertained on the night by a range of performance artists and also had the opportunity to take part in a fun-packed Box Factor competition, where the most original and decorative cardboard creations were recognised. They also enjoyed the benefit of hot food and drink and the protection of security staff.
Anyone wanting to get involve can still make phone donations by texting BIGZ12 £(amount) to 70070.