Thursday, 19 April 2018

No Direction Home

No Direction Home.

 Co-written with David Tysall

On the night of ​Monday 16th April 2018 we gave up our luxuries and slept rough for the night to raise funds to fight local homelessness and poverty. This amazing event is part of CEO Sleepout, a charity that challenges business leaders to sleep rough for a night to help make ​York a fairer place to live and work. 


I’m sure by now most of you have seen the above sign off on the bottom of our emails, and with the fantastic support of our friends, family, suppliers and clients we have so far managed to raise over £2,100. (please do feel free to keep donating on our Just Giving page). So, we thought it was only fair that we shed a little light on our experience.


Nervous excitement was a shared feeling amongst the four of us as we made our way to York Racecourse with our sleeping bags, cardboard and tooth brushes. We had no idea what to expect, but I was grateful to have my Response family by my side.


Being the most organised of the group, Clare had handily packed a huge ground sheet and 12 sleeping bags. To be honest our pitch looked like a family camping trip…minus the tent of course, and it wasn’t long until other sleepers claimed their spaces around us and donned their pink Response wool hats. We of course had brought one for everyone participating to wear that night.


A couple of hours of chatter were followed by talks from Changing Lives, Jen (an inspiring lady who has turned her life around amazingly since living on the streets) and our favourite ladies Jo and Mary from Chill In The Community. Each person reminded us why we were there and how important it is that each of us take every opportunity to help.


As we settled down for the night and the outside lights were turned off, the chatter died down and we were left with the fight for sleep and struggle for warmth. We encountered wind, rain, discomfort and had little over 4 hours sleep each.


We went through one night of what others are experiencing on a day to day basis and it was awful. I don’t think anyone can fully appreciate the loneliness, isolation and frustrations that come with homelessness. Or the worry that comes with being one pay packet away from finding yourself without a home and on the streets. 


We woke up feeling disorientated and lonely, but we had somewhere to be that day, a purpose. We knew that in an hour we would be back to our loving families, a hot shower and some breakfast


Of course we are not saying that we know how the homeless feel after one night, but we had a taste and we did not like it. 


Would I do it again? Absolutely, Would the rest of the crew? They are saying no, but we are a tight knit little gang here.


When people criticise the homeless for alcohol problems, drug problems and the like, it is missing the point. The problem needs to be dealt with earlier, mental health is a huge problem. So the homeless find a way of numbing the pain, the loneliness and the disconnection. Before being so quick to judge, just think, any of us with three bad moves could end up in the same place.


I was forced to leave home at 15, and for some reason the song I listened to that got me through an awful time was Bob Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone. The lyric in particular?


When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.

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