This months Blog post has been written by Isabelle, our Fundraiser:
“This year, I helped organise and host my very first Sleepout with the fantastic fundraising & comms team at YMCA Burton. As I’m also relatively new to the organisation, there’s still a lot of scope to learn and develop on my journey in fundraising, particularly with regard to long-running annual fundraising events such as Sleepout! From my very first week in my new job back in January, I lost track of how many times Sleepout was mentioned. As it’s our biggest event of the year in our fundraising calendars, it’s talked about consistently throughout the year and all for good reason – to spread the word!
With it being our 15th year, I felt particularly honoured to have been a part of the event. I had an idea in my mind of how the event would look, what the venue was like and how it would run after hearing from multiple members of staff, volunteers and participants who had taken part previously. A massive part of my role is going to networking events to make connections and raise awareness of our cause through presentations etc., so consequently, Sleepout was a hot topic that was embedded in a lot of conversations. I got so used to talking about it that I felt as if I knew it inside out and would be able to conjure up a personal experience as I’d absorbed that information from everyone else.
That was far from the case on the night and my experience was so indescribable as I was filled with excitement and adrenaline from the 100+ individuals, families and volunteers supporting our event that we’d worked so hard to organise. I felt an enormous sense of pride as I wore the YMCA logo and represented a local charity that does so much work in the community to help individuals and families in a variety of ways, quite literally changing their lives in lots of cases. The night ran, unsurprisingly, so smoothly and the volunteers were fantastic. The support from everyone there was so overwhelming that despite having to work through the night, I didn’t feel tired, feeding off the buzz of the atmosphere (and some chocolate).
The next morning at around 5am, I popped to St Modwen Church Graveyard to deliver their breakfast rolls, which were definitely gratefully received! With little sleep and having been exposed to the elements throughout the night, the realisation had hit participants that this is a lot of people’s daily experiences and realities when facing homelessness. The conversations had definitely changed from the night before, to that of reflection of the night that they’d just experienced. When I returned to Pirelli Stadium, the mood had definitely shifted too as people were leaving the ground in the early hours with their sleeping bags etc. Some of the conversations were profound, with many participants feeding back on their experience and how difficult yet humbling they found the event.
One night can only give a glimpse into the physical experience homelessness and cannot fully replicate it or the emotional toll that it takes on an individual, but it can open people’s eyes to the harsh realities that people have to face night after night. Upon reflection following Sleepout, each individual that took part in the event will have a warm and safe place to go home to. They’ll be able to put their key through the front door, have a warm shower, have a rest in bed or on the sofa and relax for the rest of the day to recover from the Sleepout event. However, if you have no safe place to call home, you would have to sleep out night after night, unsure of where you were sleeping next or where your next meal was coming from.
One of the things that I’ve taken away from the event is not to take everything that I have for granted and to be grateful. Homelessness doesn’t discriminate and it truly can happen to anyone, so it’s important to offer help and kindness where possible, and support those charities and organisations who are working hard to help those living in crisis.
Thank you to everyone for their support with our 15th Sleepout!”
Isabelle is pictured here smiling at the camera. You can still donate to our Sleepout fund by clicking on this link here: