It’s early spring. The sun is out. My P.A., Camilla, and I are in a meeting with New Hope. The plan is to come up with a flagship event to raise money and awareness for the charity and its task of dealing with homelessness in Watford. I’d read about a Sleep Out event and it struck me that no such thing had ever been done in Watford. I also thought it could work well financially. “What would be a good fundraising result for you Sam?” I asked (Sam Weightman, New Hope Events Organiser).
“£5,000 would be amazing”, he said.
“Sam, I believe we can raise £30k if we do this right”, was my reply. I know for sure he thought I was delusional. As did my P.A after she suggested we do this event in July and I’d explained this HAD to be in winter.
It’s now November and I’m yet to speak to one of the 200 people we’ve persuaded to sleep in a box on a freezing November night, who has said they’re looking forward to it. But then that is exactly the point…
It’s not supposed to be fun, anything but. It’s supposed to be thoroughly miserable. In part, to help the sleepers persuade their networks to sponsor them, and in part, to gain some small semblance of the experience of homelessness.
As I write this, it’s 48 hours before the event and we have already raised in excess of £31k PROFIT. You can still sign up or sponsor us here www.imaginesleepout.com
Almost as valuable will be the experience that 200 people get of the horrors of sleeping rough – even more so in winter. It’s easy to bemoan those in that situation for not getting their act together or doing more but when you’re faced with the prospect of just one night in the cold, you become acutely aware that anyone who ends up in this position every night, must have reached a truly desperate situation.
How will the money help;
£35 will provide a bed, hot meal and support for one person for one night,
£100 provides three nights away from the cold, wet streets and
£235 enables New Hope to support an individual for one week.
We expect to raise over £35k after costs – you can see for yourself just what an impact this money can make in Watford. This is local people helping to deal with a problem in their local area, which may also be part of the reason it’s struck a chord with our sleepouters.
Beyond all of that though, we have this other powerful benefit;
I suspect we will have 200 people who, after Friday, will never again walk blindly past a homeless person. And maybe that’s the most powerful legacy of all from this event.
NB – I must say a massive thank you to the people at New Hope who have put their heart and soul into making a success of this event, Camilla, my P.A, who’s been so passionate from the start, my staff for supporting so enthusiastically, the volunteers who are helping on the night, the sponsors who have helped underpin the finances, all those who have sponsored someone and most of all – the 200 real stars who are braving the elements on Friday night to show they are prepared to go through a bit of pain top help support this issue.
This would not have worked without all of your support.