16 March 2023

With 125 participants, this year’s YMCA East Surrey Sleep Easy event on Friday 10 March was the biggest and best yet.

Lee Fabry, YMCA’s Head of Housing, says:

“There were people taking part at four different locations across Reigate and Banstead, with the youngest being ten years old and the oldest, 76. It was an amazing turnout on a freezing night! I am so proud of each and every one of them.”

Challengers slept rough overnight – in a car park, community centres and a school hall – with the aim of raising the profile of youth homelessness.

YMCA housing, fitness and pre-school staff, plus residents from the Hillbrook housing facility, joined Sleep Easy regulars from Stocksigns Ltd in sleeping out under the stars at the YMCA Sports and Community Centre in Redhill.

Participants at the three further venues included students and staff from the Royal Alexandra and Albert School, 4th and 9th Redhill Guides and Redhill Rangers and YMCA Horley Youth Club. The Guides raised an impressive £1,125 by their efforts.

Cllr Frank Kelly, Mayor of Reigate and Banstead, encouraged the Sleep Easy supporters to feel grateful and have a good time in his speech to open the event. He said:

“Sleep Easy gives us just a very small idea of what it’s like to be homeless. In 11 years, no one has ever given up, despite snow, ice, rain, hail and wind. We all know that tomorrow night, we can go home to our dry clothes and warm beds. Some people don’t have that luxury. They have to hide their belongings, find food and put up with damp clothes, day after day.”

Recent data for rough sleeping in England, published (28/02/2023) by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, estimates that 3,069 people are sleeping rough in England on any given night – a 26% increase when compared to 2021.

In total, more than £4,800 was raised from the Sleep Easy 2023 event. Raven Housing Trust donated £250 to the event, with Home Instead, Morr & Co Solicitors, Clockwise and ReThink Print and Marketing all sponsoring a box for £100 each. These funds will be used by YMCA East Surrey’s Housing team to help those who have experienced homelessness back into education, employment or training.

Melissa Barker, Group Marketing Assistant for Stocksigns, said:

“Oh my goodness, we will never complain about being cold again! I can safety say none of us slept at all in our cardboard boxes. It was -4 degrees – we had so many layers, it was so uncomfortable. We only had to do this for one night. This is not the case for others. Many young people are experiencing issues such as domestic abuse, leaving care, family breakdown, or mental health issues. As a result, they become homeless because it’s safer to leave home than stay, or they simply have nowhere to go.”

The Stocksigns team raised £760 in sponsorship.

“Everyone deserves a safe place to live and the support they need to keep it,” says Lee Fabry.

“The 26% rise is evidence of how the cost of living crisis has exacerbated long-standing drivers of homelessness, such as a shortage of affordable housing, an often punitive welfare system and increasingly stretched health services.

I am hoping what we achieved on Friday night will go a small way to play our part to help ease rough sleeping and homelessness.”