YMCA Black Country Group rallied over 100 people to sleep rough in freezing temperatures this weekend who have raised over £6,500 for the local charity, in order to support homeless young people across the Black Country.
Sleep was not the only thing on the agenda at Sleep Easy, participants including; Halesowen College, Sandwell Housing, Wolverhampton City Council’s Leaving Care Team and CEO of Sandwell Council, Jan Britton took part in building cardboard cities, toasting marshmallows and campfire banter before lights went out.
CEO of YMCA Black Country Group, Steve Clay said: “I had such a great night sleeping out; however, it was a real eye-opener for me. Being without all my home comforts was difficult, but knowing that some young people do this every night and can’t go home to a shower and their own bed was the thing that helped me keep going through the night. At 3am when it’s cold, dark and quiet it certainly makes you realise how fortunate you are.”
Mayor of Sandwell, Councillor Keith Davies visited with his wife Pat and spent some time talking to YMCA residents, many of whom have experienced sleeping rough before that took part to raise awareness of a major issue which is often overlooked.
The funds raised by participants at the Sleep Easy event will go towards the YMCA Moving Forward Fund which supports residents who have had a positive journey through the YMCA, buy essential household items when they are ready to leave the YMCA into their own accommodation. Often when young people move into a new place, they are unfurnished, so ensuring young people create a “home” can be the make or break of their success.
The first YMCA Sleep Easy was piloted in January 2010 and raised over £115,000 nationally for YMCAs across England. The event aims to encourage people to challenge themselves by spending a night sleeping out and raising money to change the lives of vulnerable young people in their community.