DEBORAH STEVENSON (23) from Hedon is to spend a night sleeping rough in Hull to heighten awareness of homelessness and raise funds to help vulnerable young people at risk of homelessness.
Deborah from Thorn Road, Hedon, is taking part in the YMCA Sleep Easy 2014 and will be sleeping rough overnight on Friday 31st January 2014, from 6pm – 6am, along with others in what might be freezing conditions. She hopes to raise at least £150 to support the work of four local charities; YMCA Humber, City Life Church, Hull HARP (Homeless and Rootless Project) and Child Dynamix.
“The worst thing will be the weather,” said Deborah, “it’s expected to be freezing! All we’ll have to keep warm is the clothes on our back and some sheets of cardboard provided. I’ll expect to cry at some point over the night, not just because of the cold, but because I realise it’s just one night for us but some people have to sleep like this regularly!”
One of the ways that Deborah will be keeping active – and hopefully help keep warm on the night – is taking part in a competition to build a sleeping shelter. There will be a prize for the most imaginative construction using the cardboard, but Deborah hopes hers will simply survive the damp and possibly wet conditions and give her some comfort!
Deborah has been prompted to take part in Sleep Easy as a result of her work last year as an Intern doing social media journalism with the SEARCH project in Hull. That made her realise just how serious the problem of homelessness is, and how desperate is the plight of some young people after they become financially excluded and homeless. “The bedroom tax has made things worse for some young people, and once you lose your accommodation then you’re no longer entitled to any help because you don’t have a fixed address. You enter a kind of ‘no-man’s-land’.” She hopes Sleep Easy can help support those charities tasked with getting young homeless people back into homes.
We asked Deborah if she thought that Hedon might have a homelessness problem. “In Hedon I think we avoid talking about such problems, we don’t like to think that homelessness could be an issue here. I heard reports last year about setting up a local Foodbank, and while my first reaction was that there’s no need here, perhaps there is, but it’s all a matter of scale really and any problems are much worse in Hull.”
But the Sleep Easy is not just about experiencing the hardship of living rough: “I’m expecting to make some really good friends amongst those taking part. We’ve already started a friendly competition over how much money we can raise and how many contributors we can get.” Other participants amongst the 20 or so people taking part in Sleep Easy include a photographer, a Hull City Councillor and a journalist.
And Deborah’s reward for taking part in this? “Obviously a real sense of achievement and having contributed something useful – but I’ve also been promised a Sleep Easy hoodie!” Good luck to Deborah – and we hope she emerges as ‘the hooded-one’ after 6am on 1st February!
For those who want to support Deborah in her fundraising, then please look for her at the YMCA Sleep Easy Registration Site.
Deborah is a prolific Twitterer (i.e. someone who uses the micro-social network Twitter a lot), so she has promised to keep us updated throughout the night on the 31st January via the hashtag #DebSleepy14 on Twitter – and we’ll follow Deborah’s Twitter feed progress on the Hedon Blog that night also.