Centrepoint is a national UK charity that helps 16-25 year old with no fixed abode and support needs. Also known as Hidden Homeless. Hidden Homeless take up a 55% of homelessness in the UK that most people are unaware of. A hidden homeless person (s) will be people who sleeping rough, sofa-surfers, temporary accommodation and overcrowding households.
The Big Issue reported that 300,000 people live under the bracket of the word Hidden homeless in the UK. Centrepoint helps a total of 10,000 young people each year with support, still not being a fraction of the help needed in the 16-25 hidden homeless sector. Centrepoint has a total of 2000 rooms across the country, with most of these rooms based in London, which still leaves a huge number of young people without accommodation or a safe place to sleep.
Once a year Centrepoint host an event to raise awareness and money on the UK crisis of Hidden Homeless young people sleeping rough, sofa-surfing then getting up and still going to school or work after not having a good nights sleep. The event is known as CEO, mortgage and Centrepoint Sleepout run up and down the country on the coldest nights of the year. 100 of 1000s of Ceos, directors manages from all over the country gather to spend the night sleeping rough.
On Thursday 29th November 2018 I had the opportunity to experience this first hand. So the night kicked off at 7 pm, not knowing what to do or expect I went down, If I am honest I didn’t think anybody spent the night at all, so when I arrived empty handed without a sleeping bag, I was in for a big shock when everyone else had there’s, I went home to collect mine.
Once I checked in with reception, the lovely Hannah, Centrepoint staff, showed me around the sleeping areas, there were to different rooms to chose from, the quiet room or the noisy room, of course getting on I went to the quiet room. ASOS helped sponsor, all on with co-operative bank being the main sponsor, the centre point sleepoutmcr created paper sleeping bags, which were super cool until you try to sleep in one ha, I found myself a bag and near the wall as I figured this would be warmer, always a method in the madness, made my bed for the night.
8 pm food time, which http://zoukteabar.co.uk made and donated. Chicken curry and lentil both served with rice nomnom.
Centrepoint Ambassador Lisa Maxwell, formal actress from the Bill, hosted the event. Brandon Block took everyone back to the 80s 90s with house tune classics. Everyone one enjoying themselves, spirits where high people dancing, including myself, the night with a bedtime story from Louise wallowing MBE who herself was once homeless and now a play and poetry writer.
11.00 pm Bedtime. Everyone finishes up drinking 11.30pm lights out. well, first off I got myself into the bag got myself comfy, as best I could, it was ok for the first few seconds. Then I started to feel the hard floor, trying to get comfortable was difficult and it was cold. The floor was so hard, now I know people are thinking, what did you expect?. I expected to be comfortable, with my yoga mat on the floor and then a blanket on top, then me, then my quit than a blanket then my coat, but know, it was still cold FREEZING cold.
12 pm feeling like I needed the toilet but not being anywhere near the toilet and with it being so cold and not wanting to freeze, I stayed still hoping to fall asleep so I didn’t have to get up in the cold, my thoughts were, how do people do this every night?. I eventually had to get up and venture to the toilet, it’s fucking freezing, you would have thought that because it was held inside it wouldn’t have been so cold, but know it was freezing cold. The floor was tiled, which was why that was cold, it was horrible.
I climb back into the bag, Bed, this time I put my coat over my head to keep it covered from the bitter cold. This time the floor feels harder omg it felt so hard, it was about 1 pm at this point and I couldn’t help but contemplate going home, my thoughts I have nothing to prove to anyone, its cold I am tired, how do these guys do this every night?. All I can think about is how warm my flat is compared to out here how much I want to sleep on the mattress I have that isn’t the best, but its better by far than this., my thoughts how do they do this every night?.
I look around and most people are dead to the world, these would be the people who took the advice of Lisa to have a drink to get yourself through it. The ones still tossing and turning, like myself, would have been the ones, that didn’t take that advise which would be why we could feel everything.
6 am most people at this point were up and had left as most people had work. I lay there for a little while wondering how these people do this every night how after the first few nights they don’t try and find somewhere inside to stay. the reality is that most places are too expensive and these young people don’t get help from the government so end up having to sleep on the street, sofa-surfer or in overcrowding situations, which isn’t great for that person(s) mental health.
Centrepoint Sleepoutmcr raised £65.000 that night which still isn’t enough to help young people not have to sleep rough or sofer-surf. My thoughts, what more can we do to help?.
Living in temporary accommodation myself, also known as hidden homeless, I still feel grateful that I myself do have to sleep rough or have to sleep on another person’s sofa.
Co-operative Bank main sponsor
Asos sleeping bags