Last night I slept rough in Nottingham. I bedded down in my sleeping bag in the cold, dark night and did my best to sleep while exposed to the elements.
I was lucky though, it was just a one off for me as a way to raise money for charity.
The fact is that many people have to do this as a way of life and that’s a disgrace in modern Britain. One of the stats we learnt is that rough sleeping increased by 132% since 2010. While 3 years ago there were 13 officially counted rough sleepers in Nottingham. Over the last 2 weeks that number has been counted as 85!!
My experience of rough sleeping was with about 100 others as part of the CEOsleepout at Notts County’s ground. We all met up at about 8pm and mingled as we were told some of the stats I mentioned above. Then at about 11pm we made our way outside and put our bedding down at the edge of the pitch.
In the end I coped fine with the experience. I struggled to sleep at first, but clearly slept well as when I woke up at 6am I was the only person left pitchside bar one other person in the corner of the pitch. I’d slept through everyone else waking up, getting up and clearing away all their sleeping kit before making their way inside. So I quickly joined them for a well deserved cup of tea.
However I was able to sleep so well because I knew it was only for one night. It was dry, I was safe and I knew that I was going home afterwards. I was able to dry my sleeping kit off as soon as I got home and start my day no worse for my little ‘adventure’.
Yet there are many people that don’t have those luxuries. They have to bed down in kit still damp from the before, often in places that put them at risk from the elements and possibly worse. And they have to do that night after night. It was to draw attention to those people and to raise money for the charities that support them that we did it – so if you can please spare some pennies by going to my JustGiving page: http://www.justgiving.com/Patrick-Smith-sleepout.