It’s been a few months since the cold evening in March when Tom Mundy, Graeme Cameron and Lindsey Hible took part in the Cathedral Archer Project Sleep Out in Sheffield City Centre. This has given them all plenty of time to reflect on the evening and also appreciate what we all have that we often take for granted.
Thanks has to go to everyone that sponsored the trio and to those gave them much needed encouragement and support prior to and during the Sleep Out. Through colleagues, friends and family, they managed to raise a fantastic amount of £1,120, which when doubled by B.Braun as agreed by Hans, gave a final total of £2,240! This broke all of our expectations and smashed the initial target of £300, so thank you all once again!
With our money combined with that of the other individuals and company representatives attending the Sleep Out, over £8,000 (and growing) was raised for the Archer Project! This money should be of great assistance to the project and will have also spread awareness of the charity.
The night itself started off with an introduction from Tim Renshaw, CEO of the Archer Project, who thanked everyone for attending, and then went on to explain a little about what rough living can be like. He told several thought provoking stories and identified the volunteers from the Archer Project that would be spending the night with us.
After the talk, we were shown out to the front of the Cathedral at around 8pm, where we would be sleeping for the night. It was at that point that the reality of the experience dawned on some of the 35 or so attendees. People broke off into their social groups and started laying out cardboard and roll mats in preparation for the night ahead. Over the next 5 or 6 hours, you could feel and hear the City Centre, including the thousands of people enjoying their Friday night out. You became very aware of how noisy the trams are, how bright the street lights are, and just how exposed you feel sleeping outside.
At around 9:30pm, Gavin, a long term homeless person and volunteer at the Archer Project, took some of the Sleep Out attendees on a tour of the usual rough sleeping areas in the centre of Sheffield. As you were shown down dark, dead-end alleyways that you didn’t even know existed, you became aware of the more often overlooked side effects of being homeless; those of loneliness and boredom. Gavin explained the usual technique for bedding up for a night would be to pad out a doorway with cardboard, cover yourself in the same and then pull a wheelie bin in front of you.
As the night went on, people started to try and get some sleep, with most people probably not managing more than 4-5 hours of ‘sleep’. The night sky was clear and so the temperature dropped a little more than was expected by some, which helped with the experience in my opinion. At around 6am, people started to rise and pack up their sleeping bags and we were invited into the Cathedral for a hot sandwich and drink. The volunteers from the Archer Project gave us a closing statement before everyone took part in a group photo. The main feeling amongst people that I spoke to was that of “I couldn’t do that again tonight!”.
Overall, the experience was well worth taking part in, and it’s certainly given me a lot more insight into the sorts of struggles people living and sleeping rough have to think about. I’d encourage anyone else to take part if you can next time.
I am not sure what I was expecting from the sleep out. I held various feelings: excitement , fear, anticipation, nervousness.
When we arrived, we met the other participants. There was a variety of different people from young to old and from corporate to individual. The evening was opened with a talk from Tim Renshaw, the CEO of the Cathedral Archer Project. This was a inspiring start and really hit home the struggles and challenges that the homeless and vulnerable have to endure. We then left the Cathedral Archer Centre to go outside and prepare for the evening ahead! Unfortunately, there were no home comforts as we laid our sleeping bags around the cathedral walls.
Gavin, who was homeless and part of the Cathedral Archer Project, took us on a tour of Sheffield City Centre and the areas where he slept. Gavin showed us the door ways and the bins behind where he slept. All of a sudden our sleeping bags on the grass of the cathedral seemed luxurious!
Gavin and Tim explained to us that the life of a homeless person is not as 'simple' as finding a place to sleep. The police move them on, the cold and bad weather hurts them, they are in fear of others attacking them, they are hungry, they often have psychological challenges and they are often dependant on alcohol and substances.
We then bedded down to start a night out in the open. We only got limited sleep as a consequence of the cold, the traffic and the noise from revellers but the reality was that we had it easy compared to the real homeless of Sheffield. We were sleeping for 10 hours outside and then we returned to the comforts of our homes , to warm food and a shower. The homeless never have such luck!
The experience was both humbling and inspiring. The team and volunteers at the Cathedral Archer Project looked after us and made us feel safe. It really hit home how lucky we are. We would like to thank everyone for their generosity and kindness. This is a wonderful charity and the donations go a long way to support the plight of the homeless and those less fortunate than ourselves. Thank you.
After years of camping, I was not really phased by the prospect of sleeping outside, although I must say that I was worried about it raining all night. On the day the weather was kind, the rain held off with the temperature staying at about 5 degrees.
We were taken on a tour by a man who has been homeless on and off for 20 years. 20 years I thought, this has been his entire adult life. Gavin was now living in Samaritan run accommodation and selling the Big Issue to pay his rent. We walked through the centre of my home city and down side streets I did not know existed, and the thought of how lonely and vulnerable they must feel occupied my mind, as I chatted to Gavin. He explained how they sleep in wheelie bins if they can find them and that they pull them up to door ways so they have shelter for their heads and legs as he told me; the new posh bedding I had just spent too much money on crossed my mind. We also met a man who was bedding down for the night, and I wondered what series of events had placed him here.
The people we met were great and we survived the night. My first reflection was on how I could now go home and how hard it must be to do night after night. However It was not on the night itself that the experience hit home, but in the following days in the little thoughts and internal grumbles of day to day life.
I plan to hold this experience in mind and take my son Max when he is older.