Reflections on Sleeping Rough to Fundraise for Homeless Charity

Published: 22/05/2019

Our very own Shabir's personal account of "Sleeping rough" to fundraise and raise awareness about the homeless...

The week started well, the weather although slightly windy was mild and dry for November. However, as the week went on it got colder and wetter. Come the day; Friday 13th November (luckily I'm not superstitious!) I woke up to a cold, windy and rainy day.
It was only 8:30am; some 12 hours before I was due to report for Sleep under the Stars event. An event organised to raise awareness of homelessness and fundraise for SmartMove; a local charity. However, I was already thinking whose idea was this! Then my thoughts turned to gratitude. I thanked God for everything I have. As I was travelling from Bradford to Halifax; this included a car that was keeping me dry, warm and transporting me a significant distance with little effort on my part.
I’m blessed with six sisters. As the day went on a number of them found out about the sleep out. I got a number of messages concerned about my safety and health. The key message; “make sure mum and dad don’t find out”. They won’t sleep a wink with worry.
These messages turned my thoughts to my son and daughter and the parents of the homeless. All the hopes and aspirations I have for them. Those sleeping out day after day; the hopes and aspirations their parents must have had for them.
As the day progressed we had rain, hail, a spattering of snow and lots of wind.
Come 8pm I was getting ready for the sleep out. What did I wear – lots! I went for thin clothes but lots of layers:

  • 3 pairs of socks.
  • 2 pairs of thermal pants and a pair of jeans.
  • A thermal top, two full sleeved t-shirts and a jumper.
  • A waterproof and fleece lined jacket.  
  • A pair of gloves and a hat.

I also took with me waterproof padding to go under my sleeping bag and two sleeping bags.
I arrived at the Halifax Football stadium; the Shay. I was surprised to see over 60 people had turned out for the Sleep under the Stars event.
We were allowed to sleep under the covered part of the seating. I found somewhere quiet and dry to bed down for the night. I found it difficult to sleep due to:

  • The noise of people talking.
  • All the layers of clothes kept me warm but made me feel constrained and claustrophobic.
  • Layers of clothes also impaired my flexibility and movement.

I did fall asleep but was woken a number of times:

  • Feeling cold; despite wearing so many layers and using two sleeping bags.
  • I restricted fluids all afternoon so I wouldn’t need to go to the toilet. I think feeling cold increased visits to the toilet.

Eventually, at 6:45am we decided to pack up and go home.
Reflections on the night:

  • At around 2am I awoke feeling cold and needing to go to the toilet. To my surprise I found someone else sleeping a couple of feet away from me.  Someone sleeping rough must sleep with one eye open for their safety and to safeguard their belongings. How do you live with no privacy or personal space?   
  • I visited the toilet twice during the night. How easy is it to find a toilet when sleeping rough and keeping clean?
  • Despite wearing so many layers, sleeping in two sleeping bags and the temperature being above freezing I still woke up a number of times feeling cold. How do those who are not as well prepared and cannot find shelter cope in below freezing temperatures?

I was surprised by the level of noise during the night. The noise of people talking but also passing traffic and clatter of night workers doing their jobs. It must be impossible to get real rest when sleeping rough.

You can still support the homeless; please donate as every penny counts...

Here are the pictures from that night;

Getting together                                                                  Settling in for the night

My sleeping space