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On Friday 12th October, I’m proud to say that I participated in the Liverpool Sleepout at St James in the City, all in aid of the fantastic Whitechapel Centre, a homeless and housing charity in Liverpool. We absolutely love supporting this charity and their vital work, and we’re sure we’ll continue raising money for many years to come.
We arrived on the night with sleeping bags, snacks and open minds in tow – choosing a suitable spot for our abode - adjacent to the Church at St James.
In all honesty, we had a bit of an adrenaline rush as we began to cobble together pieces of cardboard with gaffer tape, cable ties, and a vague sense of trepidation.
But the reality soon kicked in as the rain fell with increasing purpose, and the beginnings of storm Callum tested the structural integrity of our misshapen, cardboard based home-for-a-night.
Luckily, I was wise enough to pack a large tarpaulin that acted as a bit of a fail-safe. We resorted to draping this over us in the attempt to stay dry through the night… which did half a job.
With 30 minutes sleep in seven hours, at 6:30am we decided to cut our losses and go home.
I think what I found really scary about sleeping rough is the lack of control that you have over your own existence.
You feel incredibly vulnerable.
Laying awake for hours on end, cold and wet, leaves you completely demoralised and there’s nothing you can do about it.
I have no idea how people are able to do this each and every night.
We have to come to terms with that fact that some of the systems in the UK fail to work for a percentage of the population. And we should never be quick to point the finger of blame at the people that do sleep rough. Most of the time they are the victims of these systems, and like any victims of society, they need our support, not our judgement.
What we can and should do is support charities like WCC who are completely committed to helping people who don’t have a home to go to.
By doing the sleep out, it confirmed my belief that being homeless isn’t a life choice. How could it be? As we tried to sleep in our storm-beaten shelter, the rain condensing on the inside of our tarpaulin and dripping onto us. Who would CHOOSE that.
And people sleep out in far harsher conditions than we experienced, especially during the Winter… We were lucky.
The Whitechapel Centre
Right now, the Whitechapel Centre have enough room in their shelters to accommodate the entire homeless population of Liverpool. This is, quite frankly, an amazing achievement. The charity also helps people take the step away from homelessness in other ways too – including re-housing, employment, and independent living.
However, more than 300,000 people are currently without a home across the UK. Which means that 1 in every 200 people in the UK are homeless.
And roughly 9,000 people are currently sleeping rough throughout the UK, which has had a year-on-year increase for the last seven years.
We are at crisis point.
Supporting the fantastic work of the Whitechapel Centre couldn’t be more vital right now. There’s so many ways to get involved, but I’d suggest visiting their website as a starting point, if you want to get involved.
I’d like to thank everyone who has donated so far. I’m delighted that we’ve managed to raise such a substantial amount of money for WCC. If you still want to donate, please follow my link here - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Paul-Massey13