A massive thank you to all our Sleep Easy participants who braved the bitter cold and wet weather in Dartford on Friday 16 March, to raise awareness and funds to support more homeless people locally. You are ALL amazing!
Just over 20 people took part in the event including the leader of Dartford Council, Councillor Jeremy Kite MBE and Lead Member, Councillor Avtar Sandhu MBE.
A big thank you to Dartford Borough Council for allowing us to use Central Park as the venue and to the Mayor of Dartford, Councillor Rosanna Currans, for launching the event and judging our Box Factor competition.
Thanks also to Asda and Swantex for supplying food, drinks and napkins for the event and Safestore for the donation of cardboard boxes.
So far we have raised just short of £3k with on and offline donations still coming in (if you haven’t already sponsored and wish to do so please use the donate online button).
Thanks to the support of the local community we can now help even more young people than before and support them to realise their full potential. One night out can make a lifetime of difference!
Some comments from participants before and after the event
Aleesha & son George:
“I only slept out for one night and with food in my belly and access to WC facilities. How people live like this day after day is beyond belief. During the night my sleeping bag zip broke. It was freezing; the wind, rain and sleet was relentless. The floor was damp and we couldn’t get in a good position to sleep.”
“We were never gonna give up though; I signed up and was determined to see it through. I finally slept from around 4 til 6 am.
“Not an experience I want to do on a daily basis but I am glad we did and met some amazing people and made a difference to the YMCA and homeless people.”
Lead Member and Cllr, Avtar Sandhu MBE:
“On Friday 16 March, I will be sleeping out in Dartford Central Park in order to raise funds to support the work of the YMCA locally, who help combat youth homelessness.”This is an issue close to my heart. Even one person sleeping rough is a cause for concern and we must carry on working to ensure that this issue doesn’t become a normal part of our society. The problems are complex – perhaps not easy to solve – but if a person is struggling and finds themselves separated from the community then I am proud to be part of the solution and to do a bit to help . Every person rough sleeping has a name, a story and a contribution worth valuing. They are also entitled to have hopes and ambitions like you and me – something that’s hard without shelter, warmth and human contact.
“I’m proud to be a part of a wider community that cares and to support groups, organisations and individuals who work everyday to make things better. Sleeping in Dartford Park for one night will give me only a glimpse of what homeless people have to endure on a constant basis. It will be uncomfortable, it will be cold, it will be challenging, it will be humbling. I would be truly grateful if you could sponsor me, so that I can raise my target amount and help the YMCA support and help change the lives of homeless and vulnerable people.”
“So although last night was not the greatest of my life the YMCA Sleep Easy did exactly what it set out to. They raised money and due to me and others taking part banging on about it, they also raised awareness.
“On a personal note it showed me once again what a supportive group of friends and family I have for sponsoring me, checking in on me and well wishes, help and assistance setting up, family visiting to ensure I was equipped and then going and getting more wood and tools and my poor 17 year old who I made help carry the rocket down East Hill to the park, much to his utter embarrassment but he did it.”
“Spending the night with one of my besties was great too. However much you all think I’m nuts with the things I do, you all get behind me and I’m so happy and proud x thank you all. I’m off for a well earned kip.”
Cllr Jeremy Kite, Leader of Dartford Borough Council:
“There are many reasons why people find themselves in housing crisis and it seems to me there are lots of different voices coming from all directions suggesting ways to solve Britain’s housing problem. I’m not smart or influential enough to know for sure what the national solution might be but I do know the problem has been with us for too long and that great local communities have a part to play.
“Dartford is blessed with some wonderful groups and voluntary organisations doing amazing things and I also know how hard the Council’s own homelessness team work. It will be the second time I’ve taken part in the YMCA event and if it helps raise the profile of both the issue and the great people working to tackle it then I’m very pleased to do so again. I appreciate only too well that I fall into a fortunate group who know that this is going to be one night for me, rather than the way of life it can be for others.”
“It’s been blimmin cold the last few weeks. Really makes you think about how difficult it must be if you don’t have somewhere safe and warm to call home. Lindsey and I are trying to make a difference to a huge problem by asking people to sponsor us to sleep rough for one night. If we can raise enough for just one less person to spend a cold night sleeping rough, we’d be grateful. Thanks everyone.”
If you are interesting in taking part in next year’s event or would like to host your own fundraising event on our behalf, please call 01708 766211 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more!