In my last Pivot article for Knit and Natter I mentioned my up-coming challenge of taking part in the Big Sleep Easy 2018, organised by Bournemouth YMCA. Back in the summer of 2018 Wendy from Lesley Shand Funeral Directors, asked our Knit and Natter group to help make about one hundred hats and scarves, that the Douch Family Funeral Group were going to pass on to Bournemouth YMCA. These would be used by volunteers who were going to sleep outside in a cardboard box to raise awareness and money for the homeless and rough sleepers. So the challenge was set! The group quickly started making the items and soon easily surpassed the target. However, I felt that this was not enough and decided to be one of the people who would volunteer to sleep outside. Very easy to do, on a hot summers day! November soon came around and Wendy and I were invited to hand over the items the Knit and Natter Group had made on 13 November to Sheena Dayman, the Events Co-ordinator at Bournemouth YMCA.
On 17 November the evening was cold but dry and I, along with about 100 others, made our way to Bournemouth Sports and Social Club Chapel Gate. We had been told to wear warm clothes, with lots of layers. We were greeted by the volunteers of the YMCA and, after registration, were each handed two boxes, a hat and scarf. We then had to build our shelters for the night from cardboard boxes, with a competition for the most creative shelter, judged by Councillor Lesley Dedman, Mayor of Christchurch. This was all done in good spirit with people helping each other. There were many groups at the event but there were only three of us who were on our own, so we teamed up with each other to give each other support in building our individual shelters and making sure we were ok during the night -so I would like to say thank you to Mellisa Boyle BH Living Editor and Xiomara Avalos from Marah recruitment. At about 10.30pm we all had a very welcome cup of hot soup and a roll before bedding down in our shelters to try and keep warm and hopefully sleep. I decided to decorate my shelter with the various knitted items that The Broadstone Methodist Church Group had created. The main reason behind this was because I wanted to show case the group, but I also thought it might help keep the draught out of my box and so keep me warm. This worked well at the beginning of the night and I think it did help but as the night went on the knitting became wet, with the very heavy dew that formed due to the frosty conditions. By 5.00am I awoke cold and tired with my boxes collapsing under the weight of the knitting! But at least I had helped to make a difference. In the morning at 6.30 we were woken by Sheena and the Calvary Pentecostal Church singing “Rise and Shine and Give God the Glory”. We then dismantled our shelters and had a very welcome hot drink and breakfast bap. How different our morning was compared to those who really sleep rough! Although we were all cold and tired at least we all knew that we had slept in a safe area, we had a welcoming hot drink and we would go home to a hot bath or shower and hopefully would never experience sleeping rough in reality.
To date the event has made a record breaking £25,000, which was the area’s biggest ever sponsored rough sleeping event. I myself helped raise £376.25 which was well over my initial target. So a huge thank you to all those who helped me to achieve this – as well as all the dedicated knitters from Broadstone Methodist Knit and Natter Group! After the event the knitted garments were all handed back and many more items, were distributed to the homeless and rough sleepers by the YMCA in partnership with Faithworks Wessex and 26 Churches who opened their doors to the homeless this winter.
I have been asked since completing the event if I would do it again and yes I would. Who will join me?