It’s a sad fact that some people don’t have a choice about where they make their bed at night, no matter what the time of year or how cold the weather.
On Saturday 4 March, 44 people slept rough for just one night at YMCA East Surrey’s Sports and Community Centre in Redhill to help raise the profile of youth homelessness. This was the 5th Sleep Easy event for the local charity.
Lee Fabry is YMCA East Surrey’s Head of Housing at Hillbrook House in Redhill.
“The aim of this event is to bring the community together and get the message across that homelessness is still an issue which needs to be addressed, even in Surrey,” said Lee. “Last year, 88 young people at risk of homelessness found a place to stay at Hillbrook House. Our supported Move-on project in Lynwood Road is giving even more young people a stepping stone towards independent living and the NextStep housing service is just about to secure private rented accommodation for their 800th family.”
This year is the first ever Sleep Easy Week and YMCA East Surrey is one of 11 local YMCAs across the country that have joined forces to host events between Friday 3 and Friday 10 March.
Hundreds of supporters are expected to sleep out all over the country, raising vital funds to help YMCAs nationally continue to support young people who find themselves homeless. Sleep Easy has raised more than £1million since it was launched in 2010.
Joining the group to sleep out under the stars were the Mayor and Mayoress of Reigate and Banstead, Cllr David Powell and Mrs Caroline Durrance.
“As an ex-soldier, I’m used to roughing it,” said the Mayor, aged 81, who took part in the event for the second year running, “and I couldn’t bear to miss out this year. YMCA East Surrey is such a dynamic organisation who do so much good work in the borough. It’s an honour to be here.”
Staff, residents, volunteers, local councillors, Reigate College students, friends and supporters made up the group and so far, more than £12,000 has been raised.
Top fundraiser for the night was local handyman, Rich Michalowski, with a sponsorship total of over £3,100.
“We were very lucky,” said Rich. “It was relatively mild and stayed dry, although five minutes after packing up our cardboard boxes in the morning the heavens opened! We were also safe throughout the night but I know that if I were sleeping rough again tonight, none of those factors could be assured. We will all go back to our comfy beds thinking about those who are sleeping rough and who need our support.”
Lee Fabry adds: “We know from experience that without the services we offer, many more young people would be sleeping on the streets and have less options and less chance of realising their potential.”
“We hope that one night out for us can make a lifetime of difference to others.”