The 28th September was our main annual sleep out at the Tilt Yard of the Armouries and what a fantastic event it was. We had 92 sleepers attend which is an excellent turnout and I am quite safe saying that everyone had a good, educational and enjoyable experience.
I am not using the word ‘enjoyable’ lightly, the idea of the sleepout is not to try and replicate what it is like to sleep, homeless on the streets. It is too controlled an environment to do that, rather it is to give people ataster of how it feels sleeping outside, in the open and vulnerable to the elements. Just as importantly it is so we can all get together and discuss the whole issue of homelessness and to swap ideas.
This year we had two great activities arranged for people who attended. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, sleepers could only attend one of the activities each. The first was an exclusive showing of the Shed Crew performed by the Red Ladder Theatre Company at their set in the nearby Albion Electric Warehouse. A story surrounding youth homelessness in East End Park, Leeds during the 1990s, the Shed Crew was enjoyed by all and was verythought provoking. This was a sell-out show for the entire fortnight of it’s run so we are deeply thankful that they gave us one of their nights.
The second was a presentation by Richard McCann. Richard is an extremely successful motivational speaker and it was very thought provoking to hear the story of his life, the hardships and quite frankly terrible situation he and his siblings found themselves in and the way that he brought himself through it to achieve what he has. It was also quite unique as Richard managed to share his ‘stage’ with a number of vehicles including an Uber taxi.
Lastly, we asked those attending to design a banner for their team. There were some really excellent banners produced, in fact they were all fantastic which made the judging extremely difficult. With strong contenders such as Hudgells Solicitors and the very green Schofield Sweeney teams, the Co-op team managed a strong third place, narrowly beaten by AJ Gallagher but the winners were a small team of only two people, Jess and Laura, both Phd students from Leeds who created a very clever banner.
Obviously one of the motivations for the charity to hold such an event is to raise funds. Our supporters raised an incredible £15,400 for the charity and for that, we are extremely thankful.
As reported recently by Crisis, the issue of rough sleeping is not likely to go away, in fact, they predict that without a clear change in government policies, the number of rough sleepers on our streets is set to increase by up to 78% over the next ten years.
Leeds, Bradford and to a certain extent, Huddersfield are no different to the rest of the country in that our streets are littered with very visible homeless people and these numbers are not dropping. A lot of these are what we describe as ‘sofa surfers’ who beg during the day and disappear at night to ‘somewhere’, certainly not what you or I would consider a ‘home’. The others, those that can be found in the early hours of the morning, sleeping on our streets, next to canals or other places where they may feel safe are, in the main our clients. Our workload is not diminishing.
One of our clients, a man in his 50s who has lived on and off the streets for some time recently gave a poem he had written to Tracey, one of our Bradford outreach support workers. It is aneye opening view of addiction from the eyes of someone who has lived with it for a long time. Have a read and try to imagine living like that. So many people in our communities are trapped in this terrible world of addiction and can still see no light at the end of the tunnel
Christmas is Coming!!
I know, you are all reading this and saying ‘Christmas’? It’s only October!! Well, believe it or not, this is the time of the year when Christmas appeals begin. Not to be left out, we launched ours on 4th October and this year we have a clear goal.
We want to raise enough money to pay for an outreach support worker we can base in Huddersfield who can service the town and the outlaying areas of West Yorkshire which are not currently serviced by us. Most notably amongst these areas is Wakefield, a lovely town and one which, like the rest of the country, has not escaped the plight of homelessness and rough sleeping.
If you are going to fundraise at all for Christmas, if you are wondering how you can effectively help those people who find themselves without the comfort of a home, a family or friends during the festive season then please, consider raising money for our appeal. As it says, our outreach support is there 365 days a year, long after Christmas has passed. https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/simononthestreets/christmasappeal2017
We have two farewells this month. Sue Oliver, our Development Manager has left us after over a year inpost . Sue joined us during a time of upheaval in the charity and took the helm whilst a General Manager was identified and recruited. She led us through last Christmas and the very short notice move we had to make in Leeds into the current office we occupy and she made a huge impression amongst the corporate community of Leeds. We will miss Sue but hope she will not be a stranger to us.
Secondly, we have Matt Wigley, half of our Leeds outreach team. Matt has also been with us for just over a year, during which time he has worked tirelessly amongst the rough sleepers in Leeds and networking with other services and charities in the city. Matt will be sorely missed but luckily he is not going too far as he is remaining in an outreach role, working for Leeds Council.
We are extremely lucky with the year on year support that we get from all walks of life within our cities and it really would be impossible for us to thank everyone for their time, effort and support. There are, however, a number of people and organisations that I would like to thank in this newsletter for their direct support to the sleep out, without whom, it would not have been the success it was.
Jim Vincent from Royal Armouries International Events who kindly allowed us the use of the Tilt Yard for the sleep out. This really is a perfect location for such an event. Jim, you are a star!! https://www.rai-events.co.uk/
Red’s True Barbeque. What a great team at Reds who not only slept out with us but also brought a huge charcoal/wood burner with them and cooked a hot breakfast for everyone at 5am . Thank you guys, brilliant. https://truebarbecue.com/
Icelolly Travel. Icelolly provided registration staff for the sleepout who definitely made our job easier than it could have been, together with a very generous cash donation. A big thank you to the team at Icelolly. https://www.icelolly.com/
Forge Recycling. All of the rubbish we generated overnight, together with all of that cardboard people slept on did not make its own way to the tip. Forge Recycling were kind enough to donate two large bins for us to use during and after the event. Thank you very much for your services. https://www.forgerecycling.co.uk/
Approach PR. Lynne from Approach PR was given 15 hours CSR work from the firm and she chose SotS to spend her time on. This time (and probably much longer) was used to help promote the sleep out in and around the county and resulted in numerous newspaper articles, two TV interviews and one radio interview for the team to promote the sleep out. In addition, Lynne also attended the sleep out (for the second year running). Thank you very much Lynne. http://www.approachpr.com/
The Bean Rover. It would have been a very long night without the services of Jill from The Bean Rover who provided us all with top class coffee, tea and hot chocolate until very late in the night and then again, from about 6am in the morning. Jill also slept over with us. A big thank you from the team for your support Jill. https://www.facebook.com/TheBeanRover
Global Tribe Café. The lovely Leeds café who provide our clients with free soup weekly on our soup run also provided soup for everyone. It was beautiful soup and was gone very quickly each time the urns were filled. If you get chance visit the café and try their food (it is vegetarian/vegan). https://www.globaltribecafe.co.uk/
Sam Toolsie. We are extremely lucky to have Sam as one of our long term volunteers and as well as being a brilliant supporter, Sam is also a top notch professional photographer. Sam spent the night and early morning capturing the images of the event that tell the story you have all seen on Facebook and in this newsletter. Thank you Sam. http://www.toolsiephotography.co.uk/
And of course:
Red Ladder Theatre Company