Fundraisers sleep rough in order to highlight homelessness


The sleep-out in Wimbledon and Kingston was part of the YMCA’s Sleep Easy event, and has so far raised £6,500.


By Tom Goulding, Lorcan Lovett, Solomon Radley, Kim Reader and Beth Wyatt

Determined fundraisers braved the rain to sleep rough in Wimbledon and Kingston on Saturday night, in order to highlight homelessness.

Approximately 70 people, 20 in Wimbledon and 50 in Kingston, built cardboard box shelters for the night as part of the YMCA’s fourth national Sleep Easy initiative.

The sleep-out, which has raised £6,500 so far, echoed the one taken on by Prince William in 2009, when he slept rough for a night in his role as a Centrepoint patron.

Similar events are taking place all over the UK as part of Poverty and Homelessness Action Week, a campaign to raise awareness of the issue.

Steven Platts, Senior Project Manager at West London Churches Homeless Concern, said perceptions about homelessness need to change.

“This kind of ‘tramp’ image just doesn’t apply anymore,” he said.

“There are just people coming from everywhere – people from all over the world.

“People who’ve worked in this country but now don’t have any work, people who’ve lost their tenancies.”

The night shelter provides 100 beds per night in the winter months for people who would otherwise be sleeping rough.

Mr Platts has seen people use the night centre for many years, including some who have been on a housing waiting list since April 2012.

He said: “The night shelter is supposed to be an emergency accommodation project – what’s really hard now is finding places for people to move to.”

Homeless charity Broadway said 5,678 people slept on London’s streets between March 2011 and April 2012, up from 3,975 the previous year – a rise of 43%.

New rough sleepers rose by 70% to 3,285.

Ben Mole, YMCA London South West’s Marketing and Communications Officer, said: “It is different knowing you have somewhere to go back to, so [Sleep Easy] is not very comparable to what homeless people go through, but hopefully it opens their eyes and make them appreciate what they have got.”

YMCA branches run Sleep Easy events between January and March.

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