"It’s a night you’ll never forget, and you will help support such a great cause."
Sleep Out is our largest fundraising event of the year, supporting our work to prevent youth homelessness in Norfolk and Suffolk. It helps local vulnerable young people, who may not have had the best start in life, to take their next steps towards independence and to finally feel hopeful of a better future. The event does not aim to replicate homelessness, but it does give participants a deeper understanding of some of the challenges homeless people may face, and it has been wonderfully supported by local people since our first Sleep Out event in 2015.
Robert took part in his first Sleep Out for our charity in November 2018 and recently signed up to complete his third in Norwich this November to raise money to help more local young people to move towards leading successful independent lives. We spoke to him about why he is keen to return to complete a hat-trick of Sleep Outs for the young people supported by our charity.
“This will be my third sleep out, and the first for my wife, and we are both really looking forward to it. It’s such a great cause, and so well organised.” Robert explains.
“It’s not meant to be easy, but it is so rewarding. Sleeping outside, with only a piece of cardboard and a sleeping bag is challenging, but that’s the point. It’s uncomfortable, cold and damp, and you feel tired the next day, but you also feel great for doing it. The atmosphere is amazing, with lots of experiences and stories being shared, and although it’s only a glimpse of what homelessness is like, I would encourage everyone to do it.”
At Sleep Out, we explain why the fundraising is so important and the need to support local vulnerable young people. With over 121,000 young people in the UK approaching their local authority in 2019/20 because they were homeless or at risk of homelessness (source: Centrepoint) it is statistics such as this that spur on participants to raise as much money as possible to help vulnerable young people in our local community.
Robert continues: “The main thing for me is the number of homeless youngsters who are living like this every day, and the thought of how traumatised and scared they must be. The statistics are frightening, and no child should have to suffer like that. The Benjamin Foundation does an amazing job to help these young people, so one night of discomfort is more than worth it if it can help them in any way.
“A good, warm sleeping bag is very important, but cardboard and bin bags are essential to keep the cold from the concrete, and to keep you and your belongings dry. There are so many moments I remember from Sleep Out; the rain on your face, the chap snoring next to you, getting a stiff neck…. All those things were memorable, but more so was the laughing with your friends, chatting with strangers, and realising you had done something amazing.”
“I have a JustGiving fundraising page online, and push it through social media, but I also carry a sponsorship form around with me wherever I go. It’s not so easy for people to say no or ignore you when you wave a pen and paper in front of them!
“My advice to anyone who is thinking of doing Sleep Out this year? Just do it. It makes you feel proud to know you have helped in some small way. It’s a night you’ll never forget, and you will help support such a great cause. No child should go homeless.”
To help end youth homelessness, join Robert and others at Norwich or Ipswich Sleep Out. Register your place today and help local young people to finally feel hopeful of better future.