What do four insurance brokers, three bank staff, three estate agents, and three ministers of religion have in common?
They all slept outside for one night to raise money for those who sleep outside every night.
Homelessness is still an overwhelming issue in Brighton, with fifteen new rough sleeper cases in the city every week. Brighton-based charity Off The Fence combats it through outreach on the streets where they take the homeless warm clothes, food and hot drinks, and through their day centre where they help with housing, benefits, healthcare and job applications. They also provide support through home visits where they work to prevent the issues that sometimes cause some of the newly housed to fall back into homelessness, such as isolation, access to health care and issues with Universal Credit.
So, as the temperature dropped to a seriously chilly five degrees, the intrepid crew from Sutton Winson, Sawyer and Co and Nationwide, alongside staff and volunteers from Off The Fence, set up camp for the night (each group covertly competing with the estate agents to build the best shelter). Most of them got some sleep but everyone was surprised just how hard it was.
The event was described as ‘definitely an eye-opener’. One attendee commented on how aware she was of every noise around her. She said that while they were sleeping in a secure school playground, it really brought home how hard it must be for those sleeping in dangerous locations across the city, and how hard it would be to function the following day.
Local vicar Dan Henderson said,
“I knew it would be cold, but I didn’t know just how uncomfortable sleeping on cardboard would be. Going to work the next day was hard, but then 1 in 6 of the homeless are working, so it was good to have an insight into that.”
Dan Henderson, Vicar St Andrews Church
Tabitha from Sawyer and Co. said,
“To everyone who donated, you have no idea how much your money does help. So thank you.”
The annual Big Sleepout has been raising money for Off The Fence for twenty-one years. To support their work, go to Offthefence.org.uk/donate