"When I was first asked if I would sleep rough to raise money for the homeless I had no hesitation in saying yes. I mean after all, it was only one night and what could possibly go wrong?"
"When the night arrived (16th April) I was very grateful that the Beast from the East had left our shores. The day had been quite calm and by this winter’s standards quite mild. The first challenge came when trying to get the nights requirements into two bags. I had some cardboard and a yoga mat to sleep on, I had a new sleeping bag (effective up to minus 7) I had a pillow, a thick pair of socks, a woollen hat, woollen gloves and a coat. Try getting that in two co-op shopping bags! How do the homeless carry everything with them? The answer in reality is it’s impossible, but I was going to my sleep out by the car, so the problem was solved – guilt trip number 1."
"We arrived at our designated place at 7.45pm and laid our mats and sleeping bags on the ground, no shelter. The night began the draw in and it became a little chillier, all the newbies that had never done it before started to look a little nervous. Before everyone “settled down” for the night we were treated to an explanation of the charity Changing Lives (http://www.changing-lives.org.uk/) a great charity dedicated to helping the homeless and dispossessed."
"We then listened to real life stories of living rough. One young lady told her story of how she had lived on the streets and how someone had “saved” her, she was very proud of the fact that she now had a great job with a well-known household name and was doing well. Guilt trip number 2, I wondered how many times I had looked the other way when I could have helped."
"Eventually everyone settled down to sleep – or at least tried to. There was a cool breeze but when you are trying to sleep outside it felt like a gale, it was bitter. When I was a child we didn’t have central heating and when you went to bed you went with as many clothes as you wore in the day. Thank goodness I had that life experience to call on. Guilt trip number 3 – how much do I take my current life for granted?"
"Thankfully morning came and not too soon. The birds began singing at 5am and I was up, glad to be up, glad to be alive and very glad that I would not have to do that again that night. Guilt trip number 4 – some people do not have a choice.
All in all, my experience taught me a lot. Previously I may have thought that homelessness was a scourge on society but sometimes also thought – well the individuals must to some extent be to blame surely. Now what do I think? I think Homelessness is a scourge on our society and yes it may or may not be due to fate or bad decisions – what I do know is that no-one should have to live like that no matter what. I also think that it is up to all of us, every one of us to help."
"I would like to thank everyone that sponsored me – you have helped me raise over £2,700 so far including gift aid. The entire event has raised over £25,000. I can only describe the experience as HORRIBLE! And if you had asked me the day after would I do it again I would have said “not a chance!” But now, without hesitation I will do the same next year”.
If you would like to help my Just Giving page is (https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/hunterspg) or contact Changing Lives on email@example.com.