14 March 2024

Sleeping rough in March is both an endurance and a challenge, but it didn’t deter a hardy group of YMCA supporters in Redhill last weekend.

More than 25 adults, including young residents from YMCA Hillbrook House, built cardboard homes and slept out under the stars for YMCA East Surrey’s 12th Sleep Easy event. 22 young Guides, Rangers and their Leaders from 9th and 4th Redhill groups joined in at the Empire Hall in Horley.

Reigate and Banstead Mayor, Cllr Eddie Humphreys, attended the start of the event to wish the challengers well. To date, almost £5,000 has been raised through sponsorship of those taking part.

With homelessness rising by a staggering 74% since 2010, YMCA East Surrey is finding its housing services are in greater demand than ever.

“More and more young people in housing crisis are coming to the attention of social services and there is a UK-wide shortage of suitable supported accommodation,” says YMCA Head of Housing, Lee Fabry.

“Over the course of ten years, we have provided safe, secure and affordable housing to over 450 young people at Hillbrook House in Redhill. Additionally, our three additional supported move-on houses in Horley, Merstham and Redhill now provide a less intensive housing support option for those in housing need. Recently, we have added another six-bed housing development in Redhill, which will open from 1st September, and money raised from the Sleep Easy event will be going towards this new project.”

Shelley Martin, from Morr & Co Solicitors, was the top single fundraiser with sponsorship totalling a fantastic £1,316. Her employer also paid to sponsor her cardboard home for the night.

Shelley said:

“I wanted to get involved as homelessness is something that has always troubled me to see. My night out with the Sleep Easy event was challenging as I am profoundly deaf and wear hearing aids which at night I generally take out. I didn’t feel comfortable doing this when we had settled for the night as I wouldn’t hear a thing.”

“I suffered anxiety as I couldn’t sleep and it was so cold. I felt quite emotional and found it tough, even with the luxury of knowing I have a warm home to go to in the morning, which isn’t the case for so many. What I experienced just scratches on the surface of what most endure in reality.”

Staff from Raven Housing Trust also took part, as well as sponsoring a box, with a fundraising total of almost £1,000. Regular YMCA Challengers, Sue Carnell and David Cullern, raised £876.25 and the Guides have currently raised a wonderful £752.50.

Clockwise Marketing, RETHINK Print & Marketing Services, Hartsfield Manor, Turquoise Cleaning, KCS Ltd and Home Instead Reigate & Tandridge also sponsored boxes. Royal Alexander and Albert School, who have previously taken part in the Sleep Easy event, donated £500 of food to YMCA Hillbrook House.

Lee Fabry said:

“The impact of homelessness is far-reaching, infiltrating every part of a young person’s life and affecting their physical and mental wellbeing. We are so grateful to everyone who slept rough with us and raised funds which will help us support even more young people in need.”