On Thursday 14th November, a record 220 individuals braved the elements and spent one night sleeping outside to help tackle local youth homelessness, so far raising over £70,000 for our charity, smashing the record from previous years.

Our annual Norwich Sleep Out event supports our work in Norfolk to prevent youth homelessness by inviting people to spend one night outside so others don’t have to. Money raised through sponsorship helps our work to tackle the problem locally by providing a home and support to vulnerable young people aged 16 to 25. We also provide them with the skills they need so they can go on and forge an independent life.

This was the fifth annual Norwich Sleep Out. This year’s event took place in the car park of Norwich City Football Club and we have been overwhelmed by the support from individuals and local businesses, which ensured the event was fully booked and the biggest Sleep Out fundraising event in our history.

Representatives from the Norwich City Football Club, including Chief Operating Officer, Ben Kensell and former Canary legends Grant Holt, Jeremy Goss, Adam Drury, Dean Ashton and Darren Huckerby also took part, spending one night outside so others don’t have to.

Ben Kensell said: “It’s fantastic. It’s great to do it [Sleep Out] but it’s also great to highlight the issues and social issues in Norwich and across the country. It brings us together. It’s nice to do it at our home and doing it together means we’ve got memories. It’s about what we’re doing it for.”

Dean Ashton had previously visited one of our accommodation centres for young people. He said: “It was important that I saw the accommodation and where the money goes. It helps you understand why we’re doing Sleep Out and who it’s going to affect.”

Dean continued: “It’s going to be an eye-opening night.”

We have been celebrating our 25th anniversary in 2019. With accommodation centres, which provide a home and support for young people across Norfolk, we also support young people through a network of hosts in the county, who are trained and supported by the charity to look after a young person in the host’s own home.

The result is that vulnerable young people throughout Norfolk, who have not had the best start in life, are provided with a safe place to live, stability and the opportunity to learn important life skills, such as shopping, cooking, and budgeting their money to help them move towards independence. We also support their education and career aspirations. This work helps to keep young people off the streets to prevent the local homelessness problem growing.

Money raised from previous Norwich Sleep Out events has helped young people to purchase items such as clothing for job interviews, bikes to get to college or work, work wear, and counselling to name just a few.

One young person supported by The Benjamin Foundation said: “Thanks to money raised at last year’s Sleep Out, I was able to buy my provision drivers licence, which meant I had ID to open my own bank account at last.  This has made my life so much easier.”

James Francis, Chief Executive of Saffron Housing, who had a team of ten at Norwich Sleep Out said: “When you love life and you have choice, tonight is an experience but for thousands of young people across the UK, this is the harsh reality with little hope for a positive future. Saffron Housing are pleased to be here to support The Benjamin Foundation who do fantastic work supporting young people who do not have a place to call home.”

Bhargav Trivedi, Partner at Birketts said: “Birketts are really pleased to support The Benjamin Foundation Sleep Out for the second year. We have twice as many people taking part this year. We are delighted that the money raised will be used to help local young people. This was the main driver for us taking part. It’s easier to relate to a local charity where you can see the work.”

The Benjamin Foundation’s Marketing and Fundraising Manager, Chris Elliott says:

“We are overwhelmed and thrilled by the support of local people and businesses which have made Norwich Sleep Out 2019 a record breaker! Every one of the 220 people who took part have been gaining sponsorship for their challenge and the money they raise will give local young people who haven’t had the best start in life the opportunity to get back on track and shape a better future – a sincere thank you to everybody who took part in this year’s event. They have raised £70,000 so far and we anticipate that will increase over the coming days and weeks as sponsorship continues to come in.”

Chris continues: “Thank you also to our hosts, Norwich City Football Club who have very kindly supported Sleep Out once again by allowing us to use their car park as the Sleep Out venue and this year had a team take part too – we are hugely grateful for their support for our charity.”

We are proud to be part of End Youth Homelessness, a UK-wide network of local charities that have joined forces to tackle youth homelessness together. It provides a national platform to raise awareness, share experience and generate voluntary income though Sleep Out, which in 2018 raised over £1.2million in 15 locations across the UK.

Chris concludes: “The Benjamin Foundation celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, so we really are delighted that Norwich Sleep Out 2019 has been a record breaker during this special year to help us help more vulnerable young people in the county.”

If you would like to donate to Sleep Out, please visit: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/BenjaminFoundation

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