While my body may be thawing from the icy night’s sleep, the cold, hard discomfort of sleeping without shelter on concrete, will stay with me for a long time. Not because I found it overly tough – after all I knew I had a hot shower and comfy bed awaiting me at home – but the realisation that once you are in that position, with no facilities, no protection and very few possessions, getting one’s life back on track would be almost beyond the bounds of possibility.
Since the sleepout, almost everybody who I have spoken to has asked me the same question: what have you learned? Well, other than the obvious – that Britain is really very cold in November – I’ve learned that when faced with homelessness, the basics which I take for granted daily become impossible, the material features of my life which I consider essential become frivolous and the problems which I thought burdened me become trivial.
I had two main objectives when signing up for the sleep out – firstly to raise awareness for homelessness in Wales, and secondly to raise money to give homeless people a chance to start again afresh. Being 21 myself, I could not imagine a world where I had no family to rely on if I found myself without a roof over my head, however this is a harsh reality for nearly 300 young people who have nowhere to sleep but out in the open. I wanted to help set these people back on the right track!
I don’t believe in handouts, and I don’t believe that anybody is entitled to anything for free in this life. However if a person finds themselves homeless and wants to take active steps to get their life back, then I would like to think my fundraising will go some way in helping them to do that.
I would like to thank every person who donated to the fundraising. I have been touched by how generous my friends and family truly are.
I am immensely relieved that the sleep out has been completed and I am over the moon that so much money has been raised. If that money helps even one homeless person find themselves a shelter, job or address, it will have all been worth it!