At CCR we occasionally have a saying #dosomethinguseful; it’s purpose, to motivate. Well, so it happened, this November, we decided to not just say it, but to actually put it into practice by highlighting an important issue that affects many cities and towns, including our own, Birmingham. Here Stormborn, one of our dedicated and brilliant NSO’s gives us a rundown of an important night on the town:
So, who are St Basil’s and what do they do? Basically, they work with young people 16-25 year of age who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless throughout the West Midlands. They can offer supported accommodation and support services to ‘break the cycle of homelessness’. I do St Basil’s Sleep Out because it’s a great experience and because I work with 16-25 year old myself and can understand how young people can find themselves homeless. This could be a result of family breakdown, overcrowding at home or leaving the looked after system. Some will need accommodation from St Basil’s in one of their many placements around the midlands. But St Basil’s also support young people with family mediation, they run a life skill programme all of which can help give young people the tools to build a brighter future for themselves, something I advocate for in my work life.
On 25th November a group of CCR took part in St Basil’s Big Sleep Out at Birmingham Cathedral. This involved building a shelter out of cardboard, tape and plastic to protect us from the elements as we spent the night outside. This was my 6th year that I had taken part, it was the 2nd for Boots Manuva, Mad-Eye Lou-Bee and Gryffinbrawl and we were joined by two newcomers Sarah Farrell and Lakshnie Natasha.
This year we took our build more seriously and all lay on the damp grass to get measurements for our structure. Thankfully weather was on our side so no rain and only the odd gust of wind that had us chasing loose bits of cardboard that hadn’t been taped down yet around the cathedral. As you would expect half way through the building process we took a break to enjoy hot chocolate and cake. Once we were refreshed we finished our build and added some fairy lights, as you do! They were done just in time to go inside the cathedral for the St Basil’s presentation. So far we’d had some proper giggles but now we were reminded why we were all there. Some brave young people stood up in front of a large crowd and talked about the circumstances which led to them being made homeless and needing the services of St Basil’s.
After the service the 6 of us went back outside (at around midnight) and prepared to settle down to try to sleep. The experience wasn’t supposed to imitate what it is really like for anyone who is homeless, we were doing it through choice. We had home comforts that we had bought with us, we were protected by security and once it was all over we get to hop on the bus, or in the car and go home. The one thing I noticed though, was that it was very hard to sleep with so much noise around, revellers staggering home from a night out, no stop traffic and other ‘sleepers’ who decided not to be quiet. By about 2am it felt at its coldest but strangely enough, that when I managed to fall asleep, all tucked up all snug in my sleeping bag and sandwiched between 2 of my shelter sharers. At 5 in the morning we were all awake again. We demolished our structure and put it in the recycling. That was it, all over again for another year.
This was the first time doing the Sleep Out at the cathedral which made the experience feel very different but it showed how much the event has grown ,that the St Basil’s car park is no longer big enough to shelter the many hundreds of participants. Plus the scale of the stunning cathedral made our shelter look teeny tiny. The joy of returning to my own bed, it was peaceful, I didn’t feel claustrophobia from the many layers of clothes I needed to sleep out, it was soft and it was mine. I am so lucky to have one.
It’s been great looking back and watching all our sponsors roll it. So far, we have raised £1,124. If you would like to donate there is still time, follow the link http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=CentralCityRollergirlsSleepOutSquad&isTeam=true
Alternatively, I would urge you to find your local charity/organisation and see how you can help people in your areas. Many people are currently looking forward to the festive period but just remember some are not so lucky to have a home or family to share this time with.
Finally, I just want to thank everyone who has supported us, to St Basil’s for putting on such a great event and my fellow CCR sleepers for sharing the experience with me. So same again next year???
More information can be found on their website http://www.stbasils.org.uk/
Photos courtesy of http://www.stbasils.org.uk/sleepout/