Sleeping out to raise awareness of homelessness

I ‘slept’ outside Sheffield cathedral to raise awareness of homeless, so writing this post to share that awareness.

#capsleepout25

We started with a meeting about the sleepout / Archer project. Then went outside about 8pm to set up. About 10 we had a tour of the facilities the Archer project has at the cathedral; kitchen, laundry and showers. Then I went out for the night.

Of course, this was not an authentic experience as we could have gone inside cathedral at anytime. Really on streets at night, would have no access to toilets or running water to wash hands. I had my house keys in bag and could have jumped into taxi at anytime and been in my bed in 15minutes. Also got to sleep in a group, so I did not feel scared. We laid in row against cathedral wall to shelter us, between two places where wall jutted out either side of stained glass window; it was cosy! It was my first time sleeping directly under stars. Looking up could see architecture of the cathedral and stars. Therefore for us this really was about an experience rather than real hardship.

The biggest discomfort for me was the hardness of the floor. I had a camping mat, which could feel concrete through. The zip of borrowed sleeping bag would not connect so, did not have a bag to get in. Most of night bag was on top, skewed to side of me. After many hours I did try, putting sleeping bag underneath me for extra padding. I was wrapped in cosy fleece blanket. Then had a plastic sheet over to keep it all dry. I was so uncomfortable, that constantly wanted to change position. Rather awkward as sandwiched between two people and when moved plastic sheet rustled, so did not want to disturb people. We were lucky not colder and barely rained. People sleepout in much worse conditions. I may have felt like could have had better equipment, but people sleepout on cardboard with no sleeping bag.

I did not feel vulnerable as we were in a group, with people awake keeping an eye on us. We had our bags between the cathedral wall and sleeping bags. As we were all in a row in front of bags; no one could get to them without stepping over us. Whereas on the street alone, it would be much harder to protect belongings.

There is not necessarily a shortage of accommodation, but people can not always make use of it. People may feel safer on the street than in a hostel. There were some spice users around who, were up all night rather than being in accommodation. Rules in accommodation surrounding being sober; are a barrier to addicts.

It was not as noisy as I had been dreading; but, it was never quiet. It was mainly the discomfort that kept me awake. At about 6 we were all forced to pack up. A message that the Archer project was keen to get across was how tough dealing with life is when sleep deprived. We all the next day did not feel very motivated to do anything; therefore organising things like benefits is a really difficult task for rough sleepers who are sleep deprived. Of course the more sleep deprived, get harder it is to function. This is where the Archer project comes into support clients in contacting the people they need to, completing forms, allowing them to use the address to receive post, phone access, access to electric to charge mobile if have one, along with more basic services like food and washing facilities. On the tour we also saw medical room where doctors, dentists, chiropodists etc… come to on different days, giving time for free to treat people.

In summary, it was an enlightening experience. However despite this and my research into homelessness for lent posts in 2017, it is still a complex subject.

Lincoln knights 3 of 7: The fundraising for emergency accommodation 

In September all the knights will be auctioned off to raise money for a homeless charity in Lincoln; Normad Trust. The Norma’s trust will use it to buy emergency accommodation.

The Normad trust has sponsored a knight called ‘Not all stories are black and white”, which is something I learnt from my daily lent contemplation posts on Homelessness.

Instead of going for grey for their, not black and white elephant; it is brightly coloured. There are some great thought provoking messages on the back of the knight.

Lent Conclusion Easter Sunday 2017

I have become more aware of issues around homelessness but, still find it a complicated confusing subject. From the daily prompts I found on the charity DePaul’s website I collected £7.60 for example by collecting change to represent number of journeys taken in a day because some homeless people sleep in cars or on buses or counting conversations with family.

£7.60 is not enough to pay for one nights accommodation from DePaul as this costs £15. I will of course donate £15.

Although important to help those without homes I believe, it is even more important to try to prevent homelessness for example, by being aware of government policies such as reducing budgets for mental health issues or addiction which means people do not get the help they need and this can lead to homelessness.

Lent Contemplation: Saturday 15th April Prevention of Homelessness and Sucess Stories

Lent Contemplation: Friday 14th April

Homelessness research

When the daily prompt was to reduce stigma I designed the below. I wanted to make point that people who become homeless are the same as others but may have been less lucky in life; losing parents or being in care then having to leave care as a child of 16years.

img_8056-3

Lent Contemplation: Saturday 15th April Prevention of Homelessness and Sucess Stories

Overall best to prevent homelessness. Prevention of homelessness involves having facilities so without, stigma people can get help for mental health issues, drug use, relationship issues, bereavement, finicial issues etc before they lead to homelessness.

Prioritizing mental health

Why Mental Health Matters at Work – Depression in the Workplace

The story of Josh, who was able to save money to get a room by staying at Nightstop shows how asking for help can turn situations around.

Lent Contemplation: Friday 14th April

Recently there has been tent cities in Sheffield in front of Park hill flats and on the roundabout in front of Ponds Forges.

Sheffield | Tent City

However, the council website suggests there is help available. I have learnt that it is not always straight forward to match the help available to where it is needed. Those who need help, are not always happy with what is offered.

More of what I have learnt.

Lent Contemplation: Monday 27th March what I have learned about homelessness