Each year we invite families and community groups to take part in The Really Big South Essex Sleep Out, on and around World Homelessness Day, which this year falls on 10th October. Last year, Jenny Kyriacou and her children, Chiara and Sofia, slept out to raise money for HARP and raised a fantastic £122 to help us support local homeless people.
Homelessness is estimated to affect one in every 200 people, and the number of people facing homelessness is rising each year. Whilst there are many forms of homelessness, rough sleeping is the most visible and a recent government report suggested that the total number of rough sleepers counted on a single night in the UK was 4,751.
Sleeping rough is physically and mentally exhausting and many tell us how frightening it can be, and we hope that one day soon we can end rough sleeping in Southend for good. So as we prepare for this year’s event, we ask, could you sleep out so that others don’t have to?
When Jenny completed The Really Big South Essex Sleep Out last year she told us “ I took part as I felt it would be a great way for my children to learn about homelessness, whilst also spending time together and having a bit of fun. It was also a way for me to give something back to a worthy cause.”
Jenny and her two children, Chiara, eight, and Sofia, seven, slept in the safety of their garden but still recall how uncomfortable it was to be sleeping outside. Jenny said “it was cold but I had to keep telling myself why I was doing this; I was only doing it for one night and persevered, whereas for homeless people, it could be their life.”
The Really Big South Essex Sleep Out is a great way to engage children with local issues and teach them not just about compassion for others, but also about the challenges that local homeless people face and how communities can work together to help those most in need.
Jenny said “the girls were really excited at the thought of sleeping outside and saw it as an adventure. Chiara said it was good and really enjoyed it, although they were both aware of why we were braving the cold in October and afterwards said that they couldn’t do it every night like some people have to.”
If you would like to Sleep Out so that others do not have to then visit www.essexsleepout.org.