Dear PPMA friends

We are so proud of Grace and Dan, who are both participating in the Big Brum Sleepout on the 29th November. The sleepout is an opportunity to shine a light on the really tragic circumstances that drive younger people in particular to live out on the streets. Grace and Dan have chosen to fundraise for St Basils, which is an amazing organisation. You can read more about what they are doing below and we would be so grateful if you could support their fund raising efforts. It will make an enormous difference to the work that St Basils can do. They’ve included some helpful resources at the end of the post and we’ll be hearing from them once they’ve completed the sleepout.

Rough sleeping is the most visible form of homelessness. Nationally, the numbers of those rough sleeping is, sadly, on the rise.

Think back to your adolescent years. For some this can be a confusing time, your body is changing, you’re hormonal and feel misunderstood by the rest of the world. Now imagine going through this period of your life without the support of a loving family, stability, prospects and without a roof over your head. Sadly, this is the harsh reality for many young people living in the UK.

There is a common misconception that those who are homeless have wound up that way because of substance abuse. For many that unfortunately does become the reality when people end up on the streets as a means to numb and forget the harsh and painful reality of their circumstances. But there are an increasing number of people in the UK experiencing homelessness caused by pressures on the housing market, stagnating wages, an increasing shortfall between housing benefits and housing costs, and mental health challenges.

U.K. homelessness includes rough sleepers—people living in the “open air” and places not designed for habitation; hidden homeless or sofa-surfers – people who live with family or friends because they have no home of their own.

According to figures collected in the autumn of 2018 and published in January 2019, 4,677 people are estimated to be sleeping rough on any one night and that there was a decrease of 2% from 2017 to 2018. However, since 2010 rough sleeping estimates show an increase of 165%, with the West Midlands seeing the biggest percentage increase in rough sleeping in 2018 (42%). This increase has accrued despite a government target to cut rough sleeping by half by 2022, and end it altogether by 2027. These estimates really only give us a glimpse of what is actually happening with street homelessness, so it is believed the real number is much higher. You can find out much more about these statistics from the resources at the bottom of this post.

Thankfully there are many charities out there working on reducing and ultimately hoping to eliminate homelessness altogether. One such charity is St Basils who work with young people aged 16-25 who are homeless or at risk of homelessness within the West Midlands region. Every year they help over 5000 young people and every year over 1200 are housed in their 32 support accommodations.

Through their prevention, accommodation, engagement and support services they aim to help young people rebuild their lives, have a voice, access to education, gain skills and independence, confidence and employment and break the cycle homelessness can so easily trap them in of ‘no home-no job- no home’ Giving them hope and access to services that will enable them to experience a bright and fulfilling future off of the streets.

What can we do?

Aside from donating to a homeless charity of your choice, charities often hold events which enable you to take part and help. One such event is the Big Brum SleepOut, which is a fundraising event challenging those taking part to build a dwelling out of cardboard and plastic sheeting then sleep in it overnight in the grounds of Birmingham Cathedral in Winter to truly experience and appreciate how it feels to be homelessness sleeping rough.

Wanting to try and relate to those that are homeless and living rough is one reason why myself and my husband will be taking part in the big sleep out challenge ourselves on the 29th November. We want to raise money, awareness and aid those working to eradicate homelessness for good. I believe you cannot fully start to comprehend someone in this situation until you have in some way tried putting yourself in their shoes. It saddens me that as a privileged country in the 21st Century we still have such a high number of homeless citizens. And although I am apprehensive about sleeping outside on what potentially could be a freezing and wet night (let’s face it we live in the UK so the odds are pretty high and I consider anything under 25C to be chilly!); I am fortunate enough to have choices in life. I have chosen to do this and after the 1 night I can go back to my warm home, have a warm shower and get into my comfortable snug bed to catch up on the sleep I probably didn’t get the night before, but that just isn’t the case for those living in these circumstances. I want to try and change that to ensure they too can have a warm and good night sleep in their own home.

It would be fantastic if you could support this amazing cause and you can donate to and read about our campaign here. All money raised will go to St Basils.

Thank you