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    0 mother and son sleep rough to raise money for YMCA

Angelo and his friend in the shelter they made for the night

Last month, Senior Product Manager, Sarah, and her son Angelo, took part in one of the YMCA’s Sleep Easy events, held in Dartford’s Central Park, to raise funds and  raise awareness of the dangers of rough sleeping and youth homelessness.

The event, which is rolled out across England and Wales, sees individuals sleep rough for one night, to better understand what it’s like for those who don’t have a choice. Since 2010 Sleep Easy has seen more than 7,000 people sleep rough to raise more than £1.5m for local YMCA services that help young people rebuild their lives.  Sleep Easy 2020 ran from 6th to 13th March, and as we all know, this year has seen a particularly cold, wet and windy start to the spring months.

Sarah and a fellow mum in their shelter for the night

Having taken part in the annual event last year as well, Sarah was encouraged by her son to do it again this year. Their local YMCA gateway provides beds for around 500 young people at risk of homelessness across the Thames Gateway, 56 of whom are in their home town of Dartford.

“Anyone can become homeless, and Angelo has a real passion for helping homeless people. I want to encourage that nurturing side of him, and I think it’s so important for children to understand how lucky they are, and realise what other people are experiencing at times. At the Sleep Easy events we construct our own shelters from cardboard boxes in the park and sleep there from 7pm on one night until 7am the next morning. 

– Sarah

Angelo showcasing how the YMCA supports young people

“There is a community feel to the event, and of course it doesn’t begin to convey what it’s really like to be homeless, but it’s also the one night of the year when my son and his friends don’t moan about anything - they just gets on with it and you can see it really makes them think.

Homelessness can happen to anyone, and during our stay we met a man who had lost his job, which meant he had defaulted on his rent a couple of times. He had been sofa surfing with friends for a while as he couldn’t get another job, and was facing homelessness, but had found some support through the YMCA.

In the winter months in our area, they open the churches so people can sleep there when it’s really cold. There are even businessmen who are sleeping in their suits and then going into the office and working through the day. It’s so easy to fall into homelessness through divorce or illness or anything, and I think it’s really important for us to be aware of that.”

Sarah and Angelo raised £250 through their night sleeping rough, and you can continue to donate on the link below, or for more information on taking part in the next Sleep Easy event, CLICK HERE.


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