We want to end youth homelessness and we’re tackling the problem locally by providing a home and support to over 100 vulnerable young people every night. We give them a stable home and the skills they need so they can leave us and forge an independent life.

Sleep Out is our annual fundraising event in Norwich and Ipswich. It invites people to raise money to support this work by spending one night outside so others don’t have to.

When Claire took part in Sleep Out, it inspired her to do more to help and she took a different path. Here, she explains more:

“My Sleep Out story started when I took part in November 2016. A few weeks earlier I had been walking through Norwich and was struck by the number of street homeless people who would remain there throughout the night during what was a particularly bitter Winter. I felt disempowered that I had nothing to offer, even though I felt so much empathy for those people who sat there with no comfort and no respite from the elements.

Later that night I started searching online for homelessness organisations in Norwich hoping that I could contribute in some way. I liked what I read about The Benjamin Foundation from both staff and people who used the services. The range of services offered and the continuation of care was a very positive aspect, as I know that the issues leading to homelessness can be complex and deeply entrenched. The 2016 Norwich Sleep Out presented to me an opportunity not only to raise funds for the organisation, but in a small way to also grow in compassion and understanding for the challenges faced over just one night of sleeping rough.

As expected, it was a bracing, cold night. I arrived with layers of clothing and spent the evening talking to other participants about their reasons for taking part and exchanging advice on how to keep warm. The organisers gave a presentation about the endeavours of the charity, which inspired us all. The long, cold night passed very slowly and I struggled to sleep at all with the cold, the noises and the uncertainty of not being safe and secure. The event was thoroughly successful and I went away with a very positive view of The Benjamin Foundation.

Over the following year, I kept up with what The Benjamin Foundation was doing across Norfolk and Suffolk. Having a professional background in Health and Social Care, I also looked out for vacancies at the services. In January 2018, I interviewed for the position of Youth Support Worker at Forward Court, the young person’s homelessness service in Aylsham. The selection process was rigorous, but after seeing the service first hand on interview day I knew it was where I wanted to be. I was overjoyed to be offered the position.

Having the opportunity to work with our residents is a privilege. I can honestly say I have never felt more useful or more valued than I do now. I no longer feel disempowered because I am part of a movement correcting social wrongs and reaching out to the most vulnerable in our community. It feels good and it all started with Sleep Out.”

If you’ve been inspired by Claire’s story, why not register for Norwich or Ipswich Sleep Out.

If you’re interested in working with our charity, visit our vacancies page to see the latest opportunities to join our team.

Staff praise children's positive behaviours, such as waiting patiently or being kind to their friends. This supports their good behaviour and self-esteem.

Ofsted Report, Sept 2018

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