BCHA Big Sleep Out 2012
The Big Sleep Out also aimed at giving participants an insight into spending the night without a home, with only as much as you could carry yourself. It was not the real thing however as we did have access to a toilet and water and being in such a large group also provided security. A homeless person would not normally have this luxury. We knew we could catch up on sleep the next day, in our cosy bed. We knew we had a job that provided for our basic needs and then some. We knew we had friends and family who we could talk to about our experience afterwards and who would be understanding. We were well fed before we started the night and we knew we could have a decent meal first thing in the morning. We knew we could have a shower and relax. We knew that if at all we didn't like it we could always go home. We were ready and prepared for a single, unusual night out. For many people however, such comforting knowledge and this freedom of choice is not part of their life anymore.
Most of our group didn't sleep at all that night. Those who slept did so intermittently or out of sheer tiredness, between flashing car lights, bright street lamps, noisy party goers and loud vehicles. If this was forced onto you every single night, just how would you keep your spirits lifted? What if you were forced to spend your life sweaty, sticky, unwashed, hopeless, frustrated, embarrassed, lonely, lost, scared and frightened? I don't know. What I do know is that the BCHA helps people who have to go through this.
"Homelessness is about more than rooflessness. A home is not just a physical space, it also has a legal and social dimension. A home provides roots, identity, a sense of belonging and a place of emotional wellbeing. Homelessness is about the loss of all of these. It is an isolating and destructive experience and homeless people are some of the most vulnerable and socially excluded in our society." (Crisis)
Some facts from Crisis about homelessness:
- On average homeless people die at just 47 years old.
- Homeless people are 13 times more likely to be a victim of violence.
- The main cause of homelessness is relationship breakdown.
- 97 per cent of homeless people want to work but only 2 per cent work full-time.