Sleep-out to support Leicester’s homeless

Staff and student volunteers will be wrapping up and bracing themselves for a night out in the elements in order to raise awareness of homelessness and the reality of ‘sleeping rough’.

‘The Big Sleep’ on Tuesday 20 March will be taking place at the University of Leicester, organised on behalf of The Bridge – Homelessness to Hope.

Running from Tuesday 20 March, 8.00pm – Wednesday 21 March 8.00am at the University of Leicester’s Events Square, volunteers will spend the night under the stars for a glimpse into what street homelessness might be like- with only cardboard, a sleeping bag, flasks and the clothes on their back for warmth.

All funds raised through the event’s sponsorship page will be donated to The Bridge – Homelessness to Hope.

The Bridge – Homelessness to Hope is a charity that has been helping homeless people to turn their lives around since 2009.

The charity provides food to the homeless and promotes mental health and well-being by organising various activities such as art and craft groups, health promotion events including health awareness days, exercise groups, women only groups and more. In addition, The Bridge – Homelessness to Hope helps the homeless to engage and liaise with appropriate public services regarding housing/social issues to promote recovery and independence.

Although the ‘big sleep’ event cannot replicate the hardships that those who are homeless live in entirely, the team hope that it will go some way to providing an insight into, and raising awareness of, the daily struggles and discomfort that those who are homeless can face.

Steve Owen, Chair of The Bridge – Homelessness to Hope, said: “We are so grateful to the many staff and students from the University of Leicester that will be giving up their time to experience ‘The Big Sleep’.

“Addressing the issue of homelessness is vital, particularly at this time of year when conditions deteriorate for rough sleepers, and fundraising efforts such as this are so important in helping us to address these challenges and support the city’s homeless community.”

Professor Philip Baker, Head of the College of Life Sciences at the University and Trustee of The Bridge- Homelessness to Hope, is taking part in the event alongside University Registrar and Chief Operating Officer Dave Hall.

Professor Baker said: “I am proud to have worked to support The Bridge– from Homelessness to Hope – the work that they do in supporting the most vulnerable in society is truly remarkable. Many thanks to those who have generously sponsored us.

“I have been looking at the weather forecast, concerned as to whether the night will be wet, cold or both, and it is easy to lose sight of the fact that this is a daily reality for an increasing number of homeless people on our City’s streets. This has been an extremely tough winter, and tragically several of the Bridge’s clients have not survived the grim conditions of the last few weeks. Thanks again to those who are making a difference either by sleeping out or by supporting those who will.”

The University of Leicester’s ‘Homeless outreach society’ student group will also be supporting the event. Piers Backhouse, representative for the society, said: “We are participating to raise awareness and to show the struggles of the homeless on a daily basis.

“We are hoping the experience will open our eyes even further and hope all the money raised will help The Bridge – Homelessness to Hope in their amazing work to try help every homeless person in Leicester. We are proud to be co-organising this event as it links back to our original aims when creating the society.”

In January 2018 outreach worker for The Bridge – Homelessness to Hope, Patrick Harris, became an Honorary Graduate of the University, and received a Doctor of Laws.

The Big Sleep follows the University’s RAG (Raising and Giving) and Wellbeing Week from 26 February to 2 March, which had three goals: to celebrate the fantastic fundraising and giving activity already taking place, to promote positive mental, physical and emotional wellbeing and to join together to raise even more money for charity. Over the course of the academic year, over £16,000 has been raised for charities through RAG with fundraising still continuing.

  • You can support the Big Sleep team here: https://www.justgiving.com/companyteams/The-BigSleepOut