We hosted our 2nd annual Big Exeter Sleep-Out on Friday 31st January at the home of Exeter City FC, St James Park.
Event organiser, Senior Community & Events Fundraiser for Julian House, Sarah Lakey, said:
“We are under no illusions that sleeping out for just one night can replicate what it is like to be homeless. Whilst we can provide an environment where participants can experience the discomfort and hardship of sleeping rough on concrete flooring, what we can’t replicate is the loneliness, isolation, anxiety and sometimes the chaos that comes with being homeless.”
We had 80 people ‘bed down’ for the night with cardboard and a sleeping bag to keep them warm. The youngest was 10 years old Ava who said, “no one deserves to be homeless”. Our eldest sleeper, Sue aged 76yrs old, often helps the homeless community in Exeter through various volunteering roles. Sue wanted to experience what it felt like to sleep outside during the winter months.
It was a privilege to have The Lord Mayor of Exeter visit the event to find out more about the services and projects we deliver in Exeter.
Sarah went on to say; “With the event generously being sponsored by The Exeter, every penny raised by the event will go back into supporting the work we do in the local homeless community. I must say a big thank you to Exeter City Football Club and Exeter City Community Trust for supporting the event and to Rapid Relief Team for providing breakfast for our sleepers and those who are currently staying in the safe sleep shelter.”
Sponsorship raised from the event will help to fund the charity’s work in the county, including its assertive outreach service and Nightstop Devon which receives no government funding.
“It a shocking statistic that the life expectancy for long term homeless is just 45. That’s something we want to change. Our outreach teams work tirelessly to get people off the streets – connecting them with the services which will address the issues which have put them in such a vulnerable position. Likewise, our fantastic Nightstop Devon hosts provide same day emergency accommodation for young people – very often the critical support which stops them becoming street homeless.”
Participants left on Saturday morning knowing they have helped some of the most marginalised members of their community.
The event has raised £16,267 for the local homeless community and will go a long way to continue to support our projects and services in the area.
We are already planning another sleep-out event in Devon which will be held in November and we plan to return to St James Park in January 2021. Keep an eye on our Exeter specific Facebook page and website events page for more information plus an exciting new summer event to be announced soon!