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Big Exeter Sleep-Out Star Fundraiser Speaks

Star fundraiser ⭐️ Chris has raised an incredible £1180.73 for the Big Exeter Sleep-Out 2020. Read on to learn Chris’s reasons for supporting Julian House and why he was motivated to raise so much for the cause.

I had a great Christmas with my family at home with good food and good cheer. I’m really conscious of others who may have had a different experience of the holiday season, including the many homeless people who suffer in so many ways all year round. I came across the Big Exeter Sleep-Out event and it struck me as one tiny thing I could do.

Because of the brilliant work they do, I wanted to raise money for Julian House. I’ve worked in social housing and with homelessness – as a residential volunteer in a young homeless persons’ community, I was a homelessness officer for large city councils, a peer education worker for Shelter, a manager of a high support homeless hostel and community support services, and a commissioner for street homelessness and complex needs services.

I know Julian House are a great organisation who are doing life-changing (and often life-saving) work across the South West. They need as much support as possible in these hugely challenging times of increasing numbers and complexity of their service users, combined with the sad impacts of austerity.

It is clear that outreach teams, winter night shelters, specialist ex-offenders’ and women’s supported housing, Housing First projects etc., all of which are provided by Julian House in Exeter (and wider), can be of immense value to individuals who not only are particularly vulnerable right here and now, but all too often have experienced horrendous traumas in childhood and throughout their lives. Like all of us, they deserve safety, shelter, support, and all the “hierarchy of needs”…

The other reason is more personal. Despite the time I have spent working in this sector, I’ve never joined a sleep-out before! I’m so fortunate never to have been homeless in any form, let alone on the street. At two points in my life – following a marriage break-up overseas and a serious illness – I very easily could have been, were it not for the loving willingness and ability of my family and my partner to look after me. “There but for the grace of God” isn’t quite the right term, but you know what I mean! It really could happen to any of us.

Julian House are rightly explicit in saying that spending one night under the stars could not possibly replicate what it is like to be homeless and sleeping on the streets. After the Big Exeter Sleep-Out you can go home, have a warm bath, have a nice breakfast and chat to your family or friends about your experience. You could perhaps even go back to bed to catch up on the sleep you lost the night before. Plus, you have a safe place to return to, without risk of attack from associates or strangers. You may not be dealing with a background of a childhood in ‘care’, being repeatedly raped as a teenager, enslaved in county lines exploitation, have multiple addictions, significant physical and mental health issues, criminal record, lack of family, purpose, hope… I don’t want to generalise – everyone of course is different – but I’ve seen this kind of scenario and worse so many times.

Charity sleep-outs are not just well-meaning tokenism, they are a vital way to raise awareness and funds for the most vulnerable and marginalised members of our society. I found it immensely rewarding raising these funds for Julian House and I would recommend participation in the Big Exeter Sleep-Out to anyone!