Exeter Sleep Easy 2014

Coming up in March this year, is an opportunity to sleep out under the stars in Exeter to raise money for the work that the Exeter YMCA does with homeless young people in the Exeter and Devon area.

Heres a sample of last years event.

Go to sleepeasyexeter.org.uk for further information and to sign up!

Will you take a stand against youth homelessness?

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We’ve been given some details of this years Exeter YMCA Sleepeasy event happening in the Guildhall
Shopping Centre:

Whats Sleepeasy?

Sleep Easy is a national event that YMCA’s up and down the country will be participating in. Last
year over £200,000 was raised by over 1,500 brave participants. The Exeter event, now in its third
year, calls on members of the community to spend ‘one night sleeping rough, so others don’t have to’
and this year Exeter YMCA is hoping to attract its largest number of participants yet.

Whats happening?

Exeter YMCA is calling for people to take a stand against youth homelessness by joining up to
500 others for the biggest ever sponsored sleep out event in the charity’s 20 year history. Since its
opening in September 1993, Exeter YMCA has accommodated and supported over 500 homeless
young people. On average a young person stays at the YMCA for a year, giving them time,
with the right support, to overcome the issues that led to their homelessness and build positive
futures.

Exeter YMCA’s event organiser, Tom Wyatt, says: “It would be wonderful to have 500 members
of the public sleep out with us and also quite symbolic – as it would represent really closely the
number of homeless people we have housed since we opened 20 years ago.”

Who is involved?

Exeter YMCA’s Community Relations Manager, Sophie Hodge, says:

As we celebrate our 20th anniversary we would love to make our Sleep Easy event the biggest
ever! We are confident that with the support of the Exeter community we can make it happen.

The campaign has already attracted the attention of Exeter’s business community with support
from thebestof Exeter, a local networking forum and Gilbert Stephens LLP Solicitors, who have
also selected Exeter YMCA as one of their nominated charities in 2013.

Philip Luckham, CEO for the Devon-based law firm, comments: “We are really pleased to be
supporting such a great campaign and look forward to helping drum up as many participants as
possible from our extensive network of professional contacts. We already have some interest from
staff members and we hope the event will help bring the issue of homelessness in the region to the
forefront of people’s minds.”

Why?

The event will not only raise awareness of youth homelessness in Devon but will also help raise
vital sponsorship to continue Exeter YMCA’s work providing 15,000 nights of accommodation and
support a year to homeless young people in Devon.

Dave Barr from thebestof Exeter says:

I will be sleeping out with the YMCA because I want to make a difference in the lives of young
people who have had the worst possible start in life. I’m hoping that many small local businesses
will join me.

Any other details?

The event will start at 8pm on Saturday 16th March and finish at 7am the next day. Teas and coffees will be available
throughout the night to keep people warm.

For more information or to register online, visit www.sleepeasyexeter.org.uk. Alternatively call
event organiser Tom on 01392 410530, email events@exeterymca.org.uk, or text “sleep” to 07535
463178 and Tom will call you back.

Cardboard Box Memories

Well, around a year ago, a number of events were set in motion. A church notice here, a pub conversation there, and before we knew it, both Church Sofa lads found themselves at the Exeter YMCA Sleepeasy event. The YMCA sleepeasy events are to help fight against homelessness, by having the participants raise money by sleeping in cardboard boxes for a night. Whilst one of us didn’t bother trying to sleep, the other found themselves climbing inside a cardboard box for the night.

The following post from last year was started in a cardboard box:

It’s approaching two in the morning of the YMCA Sleepeasy event, and I’m tired. Yet I didn’t really fancy the idea of bed. Maybe it was the light, maybe the noise, perhaps it was the idea of trying to clamber into my “house” that you can see on the right hand side.

So, I kick off my boots, lean down, drag my sleeping bag out, just to see my loving crafted house fall to pieces on me. Leaving the bigger box standing, feeling uninspired to start again I wiggle into place. I lay down, very aware of the concrete underneath, shuffling around trying to blot out the light in front of me, leaning to my side… I’m aware of a church tower somewhere chiming that its two in the morning.It was at this point that I realised, that I was now more awake than I was when this whole box thing started. More photos were taken, tweets were read, web pages scanned, and I opened my eyes again.Before I knew it, that church tower was chiming for three o’clock.At somepoint after three I went back to sleep “properly”. At somepoint I closed my eyes, and drifted off.

It was at 4:49 when I woke up. Rain thundering down on the shelter over us, my nose well and truly blocked up, and very aware I was in a cardboard box.

Very awake, very aware I was in a cardboard box, and oddly angry at the injustice of people needing to wake up like this. As I was laying there wondering what to do between actually getting up, and having breakfast, I wondered how we all got into a state where we accepted the fact that people have no choice but sleep rough on our streets, scared and sleep deprived, simply existing from one moment to the next

It all made me wonder how long I could survive on naff all sleep, spending my time waiting for something to happen.

Look, I’m not going to say that the SleepEasy event was anything really like sleeping rough for any length of time: For starters we were secure, we had people awake and watching over us, bacon rolls, there was a shelter over our heads, and we knew that no matter how long the night was, we had a home to go back to.

If you get a chance, look out for SleepEasy events next year, and have a sample of what it’s like waking up in a box.

That was last year. This year its happening again! Can you join us to sleep under the stars and help raise funds to support Exeter YMCA’s work with young people?

According to the Exeter YMCA website: Music and other entertainment during the evening will make sure you have a great time and food and hot drinks will be available. All you need to do is make sure you’re well wrapped up!

We ask everybody to do their best to raise a minimum of £50 – most people raise much more. All funds raised will go towards Exeter YMCA’s vital work providing 15,000 nights’ accommodation and support each year to homeless young people in Devon. We don’t pretend this will give you a real rough sleeping experience (after all you will be entertained, fed and kept safe), but we do promise you a night you will remember for a long time. And your efforts will make a real difference to the lives of homeless young people in Devon.

So are you up for getting your own cardboard box memories?

Check out sleepeasyexeter.org.uk for more information

Hope. Losing it, and Finding it again.

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Peter Stephenson from Exeter YMCA, has had a look at the power of finding hope:

Mari-Carmen appeared one night and ate some food with us whilst we chatted. Despite the filthy state of her clothes and face, and her unkempt and unwashed hair, it was clear she had once been a beautiful young woman before heroin had taken over her life. I remember Mari-Carmen so well because of a conversation we had one night that haunted me for weeks after.

A couple of us were encouraging her to seek help, but she refused to even consider it. Not now, not tomorrow, not next year, not ever. Absolutely not. Not aggressive at all, but clearly decided. Why? Slowly and thoughtfully she said, “Porque he perdido la esperanza. He estado en todos los centros y sigo igual. Esto será mi vida hastaque me muera “Because I have lost hope. I’ve been to all the different [rehab] centres, and still I’m just the same. This is my life until I die”.

Have a few minutes to spare? Read a little more over atPeters Blog.

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When family isn’t there…

A quote from the Shelter blog in response to latest planned changes to Housing Benefits (BBC link):

Last month’s budget revealed the Treasury’s intention to cut a further £10 billion from the welfare budget. The first reaction in the Shelter office was – how? Housing benefit has already been cut by over £2 billion in the Emergency Budget, in a high risk move that has prompted concerns of rising homelessness. But now the Prime Minister has indicated the Government is prepared to take a wholly more radical approach to welfare cuts.

Downing Street has floated the idea of banning all under 25s from claiming housing benefit. Presumably this would not apply to younger parents, although headline grabbing proposals don’t tend to have the details bottomed out. According to news reports, the Prime Minister wants younger people to return home if they are out of work, like many people working in entry level jobs.

Shelter doesn’t want younger people to move out until they are financially ready. But the Government has to be realistic and accept that staying at home is not an option for everyone. Last year nearly 10,000 households in priority need were recognised as homeless after they were thrown out by their parents. Many more won’t have shown up in the statistics and will have resorted to sofa surfing, hostels or at worst the streets. If a family home is overcrowded it’s not uncommon for older children to be told to leave. Others will have gone through the care system, irretrievably lost contact with their parents or been orphaned. Parents may have downsized or divorced, making it difficult to return.

Perfectly good reaction, but I’m sure more will be said over the next few days / weeks.

Read More on Shelter.

Weekly Round Up: The Stations of The Kings Cross Edition

Here’s the round up of what we’ve caught online: