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Sleep Out for the Archer Project

28/03/2014

This is a unique experience of sleeping out in the centre of Sheffield. Are you up to the challenge?

On the night, you will gain a small insight into sleeping rough. Everyone that takes part learns something new and has a bit of experience of what it is like to be sleeping on the streets just for one night.

You will also learn about the work we are doing to help homeless adults in Sheffield. We ask that everyone taking part aims to raise at least £100 in sponsorship for the Cathedral Archer Project.

Read about Lindsay’s experience of sleeping out for the Archer Project:

“Having come across the Archer Project and volunteering for the Sleep Out in September I wasn’t sure what to expect from the experience. I rocked up with my sleeping bag to meet a mixture of ages and backgrounds of good folks giving up their beds for the night to raise funds for the project. While we were plied with hot soup and words of encouragement I saw a youngish man and his dog laying out flatted cardboard on the grass where we were to sleep over night. Being a doggie fan before we settled down I went over to introduce myself and ask about the funny little grey mutt who I found out was called Niche. His owner was G, a lad in his 30s. The two were inseparable with Niche curling up inside the foot of G’s sleeping bag. While G didn’t talk about himself he talked about Niche and the Archer project and how it helped him and showed some of us where he regularly slept in a doorway.

After much chatting a bit of singing and jokes about snoring we settled down for the night. I couldn’t sleep and lay awake most of night listening to the city sounds of cars trams and rustling trees and murmurs of those still awake like me. I was well dress in layers of warm clothes in a top notch waterproofed sleeping bag on top of two ground mats and cardboard that G had laid out. It made me wonder what it would be like to do this 365 days of the year in all weathers on my own. No one to talk to, no hot soup, no fancy sleeping bag, cold wet and vulnerable.

Something quite amazing happened next that I shall never forget. It was about 3am and I was staring at the leaves in the trees above me when all of a sudden Niche started barking furiously. I sat bolt upright to see a shady figure of a man bent down looking into the bags of some of the volunteers sleepers obviously weighing up the chances of easy pickings. 3 or four of us looked on as G shot out of sleeping bag in his tee shirt, joggers and bare feet. He ran toward the man shouting at the top of voice ‘F*** off you just f*** off and leave my friends alone go on f*** off’ and waving his fists chased him into the streets beyond. To an onlooker it would have been quite a comical sight I am sure. He was away for ages and while everyone else lay back down to sleep I was a wee bit worried about him so sat up and waited for him and Niche to return.  Niche came first and snuffled me on his way back to the sleeping bag followed by G. He was a bit breathless but stopped on his way over and touch the bottom of my sleeping bag said ‘ Get tha head down Lass me and Niche is lookin out fer ya’. I can honestly say that was one of the most humbling moments of my life. Here was a young man, homeless, penniless cold and tired with nothing to give but his humanity. That’s just what he did. Those few words and his actions have left a lasting impression on me. I have since met him few times selling his Big Issue and couple a weeks back I was on my way to a meeting in my suit and saw him. We exchanged a few words and some hot tea while Niche had some dog biscuits and an ear ruffle. G said ‘can I hug you’ I said ‘yes of course you can’. He put his arms round me and said ‘I bloody love you’. So odd to see the expressions on the passers by faces at me in my posh suit being hugged by G the big issue seller. None of them knew what I know about G and Niche, about the person behind the yellow Jacket who most likely has more humanity about him than so many walking past that day.

If you are reading this little story please think about what you see next time you pass a homeless person. It is my privilege to help the Archer Project support the Gs of Sheffield. ”

*G’s name has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Niche’s has not.

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