Preventing Homelessness in Reading

Big Sleep Out 2017

120 got sponsored to Sleep Out, for just one night, so others don’t have to.

Big Sleep Out 2017

“We did it! Before we bedded down for the night we had a talk from an ex-homeless person who was very honest about falling into drink and drug addiction and then losing his home and friends and how he is coming out of that with the help of Launchpad for a roof over his head. Very humbling. The ground is hard and people are warm.” Tim Ferguson reflects on the Launchpad Big Sleep Out.

120 joined Tim sleeping out to raise money and awareness for Launchpad. Over £36,000 has already been raised and we’re hoping to hit £40,000 with individuals fundraising totals being matched by the companies they work for including, The Oracle Shopping Centre, Ikea and Google.

The evening

The evening began with everyone arriving to register at 7pm with cardboard and sleeping bags tucked under their arms. They were invited to contribute to the dreamcatcher made by volunteers and clients, adding their positive messages for the people Launchpad support. Messages of support included ‘dream big and believe in yourself’, ‘stay strong’ and ‘recovery is possible as is a new beginning and a new start which you so deserve’.

At 8pm everyone headed inside to hear from Launchpad CEO Ian Caren, Reading Mayor Rose Williams and a Launchpad client who came from a good family, had been to university, started drinking and taking cocaine, it got out of hand and he ended up losing his home, job and sleeping rough for two months – walking around in the early hours to keep warm and safe. Supported by CIRDIC, St Mungo’s, Launchpad and iRiS he grasped the opportunity to get his life back on track. He’s still attending a number of support meetings a week and is housed by Launchpad, he has a job and is taking one day as it comes.

The Big Sleepers also heard from Joy, Launchpad Drop-in volunteer who supports people who come in for homelessness related advice. She’s helped a mum with HIV living in totally inadequate B&B accommodation with no cooking facilities and a concrete floor, a young man with no parents asked to leave home by his grandmother and many ex-offenders struggling to find housing. What strikes her most about the people she provides options and signposting to, is their pride – she would never guess they were vulnerable or homeless. Her volunteering makes her very grateful for the home and family she returns to at night.

New Launchpad Patron Danyl Johnson revealed on the night that £30,000 had already been raised and then tweeted his support ‘Great evening with some inspirational stories. Good luck to everyone sleep out tonight’.

Soup was served made with vegetables grown and picked by clients at the Launchpad allotment and made by our neighbours Shed Café. Musician Davie McGirr busked lullabies before everyone headed out to spend a night under the stars with just cardboard and a sleeping bag for comfort.

Jo sleeping out tweeted before bed ‘All tucked up in my shelter. Thankfully not too cold tonight. Hopefully will get some sleep. Please sponsor me’. And Phil from Tamp Coffee Culture who has slept out for three years and serves coffee from 5.30am to those who’ve slept out, shared ‘Sweet dreams boys and girls, as you snuggle up in your comfy beds give a thought for those less fortunate than us who don’t have a roof over their head.’

In the morning Charlene tweeted ‘Everyone really needs to take part in this event at least once to get just a glimpse of what the reality is for so many people.’

By 5.30am everyone was awake collecting their certificate of achievement and by 6.30am on their way having gained a tiny insight into what it’s like to sleep rough for just one night.

Lisa-Marie posted on Facebook ‘So what did I learn? People are amazing..when we watch the news and life gets us down we sometimes think no one cares and the world is a bad place…not true! It was so heart-warming to be with so many welcoming, kind people who had come together because they care about others less fortunate. It’s bloody cold sleeping outside in cardboard! The dew had collapsed my box this morning and I was freezing and uncomfortable…I’m so lucky I got to come home to a warm house. Always check your sleeping bag zip is not broken before you leave home or you will have very cold legs!!’

Chris from 58 Barbershop had a day of work ahead of him after sleeping out ‘Fantastic night for @Launchpad_RDG #BSO2017 Great people, great charity. Now for a full day on the tools @58barbershop #rdguk

Many more were humbled by the experience and shared their thoughts on social media:

Amy ‘Had the best evening at @launchpadreading Big Sleep Out. Such a great experience and makes you appreciate just how lucky you are #bso2017

Many were still reflecting on Sunday including Claire ‘Happy Sunday everyone! Having had a great sleep in a comfortable bed, with crisp linen sheets and fluffy pillows I am reminded of the Big Sleep Out on Friday. A truly inspiring and worthwhile evening. I met some wonderful people, listened to some incredible stories of the harsh realities of sleeping rough. Friday night’s Big Sleep Out was a small part towards addressing the homeless issues by raising money to support this incredible Charity without whom the whole situation would be very different.’

Thank you to everyone who took part, volunteered and supported those sleeping out. An overwhelming amount of money was raised by the most ever people taking part in our Sleep Out event.

The photos

Take a look at all the photos evening here >

Big Sleep Out 2018

Keep an eye out for the date for our 2018 Big Sleep Out, coming soon.