Mayor sleeps rough to highlight Suffolk's youth homelessness
A Suffolk charity issued the challenge to give up a bed for one night, brave the cold and sleep under cardboard with friends - the Mayor of Stowmarket and his wife rose to the challenge.
As you will have seen, YMCA Suffolk held its yearly Sleep Easy on 26th February and organised a night sleeping outside in cardboard shelters to raise funds and awareness for the issue of youth homelessness.
The Town Mayor of Stowmarket, Councillor Barry Salmon and Mrs. Heather Salmon joined in on the night to share their thoughts on the event, youth homelessness and – to sleep outside for the night. That’s right, they constructed cardboard shelters (as you can see in the photo above) and spent 1 night in the freezing cold for an issue they think is of great importance to our local community.
They were interviewed on the morning after to find out about their experiences and they found it to be an eye opener and recommended it to everyone.
“So guys, the next time somebody tells me this is a lifestyle choice, I’ll tell them it’s not a very comfortable lifestyle to spend a whole night under a cardboard box. It was dry but if it had been wet, it would have been absolutely awful. I think we all should do it at least once to see what it is like.”
(Town Mayor of Stowmarket, Cllr Barry Salmon)
At the start of the evening, the Town Mayor shared his thoughts on young people’s issues and talked about his past experiences supporting foster children, and also on what he had seen in Stowmarket of homelessness. Young people are often the most caring and go out of their way to help others in need.
All those who took part last year had great fun, learnt much about being homeless and really appreciated their warm shower and bed the next day.
Mrs. Heather Salmon was tentative about sleeping outside in the cold on the floor, and rightly so. It is not a comfortable experience. She said;
“When we were first asked to do this, I said no I don’t think so, I’ll let Barry do it on his own. I’ve done all the nice things with him. You know, presenting the bouquets of flowers and go to the play groups and AGMS and all the nice things. Well, thinking long and hard about it, perhaps, I’d better join in. It’s something that, you know, I’d experience and see what it’s like. Well I have to say, I wouldn’t want to be doing this every night. I’ve got a nice warm home to go to, a nice warm shower, and I know tonight I shall be sleeping in my own bed. Whereas these youngsters have not got this to look forward to.”
(Mrs Heather Salmon)
The 26 participants have so far raised a total of £2,848.94 with giftaid included. The Suffolk YMCA are hoping to reach £3,500 when all the donations have been collected and the sponsorship is in. This will combine with the funds raised from last year’s event and hopefully the local YMCA can deliver a preventative programme for youth homelessness in Suffolk. We’re collecting sponsorship until the 14 March so please do donate today.
The event will be running again in 2017 and if you think you are up for the challenge to raise awareness and sponsorship for youth homelessness then take part in Sleep Easy 2017. We are looking for more teams next year – could you and your friends or colleagues build a group cardboard shelter and endure a night outside?
Make a difference still - Donations are being received until March 14th!
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ABOUT YMCA SUFFOLK
YMCA Suffolk is one of 114 YMCAs in England. Each YMCA meets the unique needs of their community.
In Suffolk we provide Supported Housing, including emergency beds, Youth Work and Nursery care to young people across Suffolk. YMCA Suffolk have a Fitness Suite, Sports Hall, meeting and conference rooms and a function room with licensed bar. These are available to the residents as well as the general public.
YMCA Suffolk offer services and support to young people and their families in the wider Suffolk community to enable them to fulfil their potential.
YMCA Suffolk helps people to believe in themselves, inspire them to raise their aspirations and supports them to achieve their goals so they have a brighter future.