This week I left the warmth of my four walls that I call a home, and swapped my double bed for a cardboard box for the night, as I attempted to sleep rough as a homeless person would.
I was originally given the idea from an old colleague of mine, James. At the time, I was really up for it, but speaking to my mother, she was concerned of my safety. Being the mummy’s boy I am, I didn’t want to frighten her. However, when told about The Seaview Project organising a big sleep out, I was all over the idea.
Homelessness is something that saddens me. I was once called on a night out a “run of the mill, middle class, white kid” by a nice gentleman. He probably wasn’t far off the mark. The truth is, I couldn’t even begin to imagine life without a home, warmth, friends, family and safety. I was hoping this sleep out with give me a tiny insight in the life of being homeless (In reality, it didn’t even touch the surface).
The sleep out took place in Hastings old town and would start at 10pm all the way through to 7.30am. I was fortunate enough to have 6 layers, gloves, a sleeping bag and an amazing hat, donated by my mate Jake… This is probably more than lots of homeless people would have.
The event was a brilliant event, a bit of live acoustic music before a bedtime story and taking on the cold for the evening. I took part in this event alone, but managed to make friends amongst the 70ish other people that took part. Anna, Katie and Laura were just along from me in our cardboard city, and made sure I didn’t feel alone for the night. We played the most random game of ‘Would you rather…’ up to about midnight… So random, I couldn’t give you a single example on here. (My mum reads these).
Once everything, settled down about midnight, I actually managed to get myself quite cosy and got a couple of hours sleep. However, once it got to about 2.30am… The temperature really dropped and the pins and needles kicked in. In fact, it was insufferably cold and uncomfortable all the way through to 7.30am. I didn’t get a wink of sleep through these hours. It’s well worth noting this was on a clear Septembers night without rain.
Whilst staring at the stars, I really did think just how hard this would be in reality. As I mentioned earlier, this event didn’t even touch the surface on what it would be like to homeless. Sleeping with 70 other people in a secure area couldn’t begin to represent what it’s like to be homeless. Just imagine not having a home to return too in the evening. Not knowing if you’re going to be safe at night. Not having a warm shower. Not even knowing where your next meal is coming from. Imagine people not even looking you in the eye because you’re homeless. It really got me thinking how lucky I am. I complain on a Monday morning because I have a working week ahead of me, I complain I can’t afford a holiday, I complain when there’s not enough milk in the fridge. I’m damn lucky and I this is a timely reminder of the fact. I’m told you’re only ever 4 things going wrong in your life away from becoming homeless and the in the UK there definitely is a problem. I don’t want this to become some self-righteous post about how we should treat homeless people, but I do feel more can be done and that begins with us as individuals.
Once I made it to the morning, I cleared up my cardboard home and got myself a bowl of porridge and walked to the beach. I did it and raised The Seaview Project £340 in the meantime. There was a real sense that everybody there that morning had achieved something and the event raising £21 000 for Seaview really confirmed this. I’ll read back on this post if I ever do need a reminder of how lucky I am, because for the few hours I was homeless, it was horrible.
If you wish to donate.. you still can HERE