The Sleepout has been an annual event in St Albans for a few years now, and Oaklands College were wonderful and supportive hosts this year. There was good spirit and creative cardboard construction, and fortunately for us no rain! Music groups entertained us during the evening and there were hot drinks available, and at 11.30pm we made our way to our sleeping bags, packing up and leaving at about 7am the next morning. How lucky we all are to have homes to return to.
5 charities came together to organise the Sleepout and they are Herts Young Homeless, Centre 33, Open Door, The Living Room and Emmaus. They work together to tackle local homelessness in different ways - by providing mediation and other services to young people at risk of homelessness, by providing day centre and night shelter services, by providing support for the other challenges that homeless people are often facing such as addiction, and by providing skills and employment opportunities within a residential community.
Of course, they could not do their vital work without the support of those who fundraise on their behalf, and those who joined the Sleepout not only did that (raising a fantastic amount through sponsorship) but went one step further to raise awareness, experiencing for themselves what it is like to have to sleep outside with no home to go to.
With the number of homeless people in Hertfordshire on the increase, I applaud them for their efforts in highlighting this sad and difficult issue and helping those who work to end homelessness.