£26,000 raised as 120 bed down on Leeds street

© Sam Toolsie 2019 Moral Rights Asserted; This work may not be reproduced without the permission of Sam Toolsie.

120 people took to the streets of Leeds recently to sleep out for a local homelessness charity, helping to raise £26,835.

Sponsored by BW Legal, charity Simon on the Streets held its annual sleep-out event, ‘Sleep With Simon’ on Thursday 26th September at the Tilt Yard at Royal Armouries.

The event offered the chance for individuals and businesspeople to sleep outside for one night and learn about some of the harsh realities that rough sleepers experience on the streets. It was also a chance to learn more about the increasing amount of people becoming homeless and how the charity supports entrenched rough sleepers.

Before bedding down, attendees saw performances from the Commoners Choir opening with a song called ‘Get off your arse and do something’ before former rough-sleeper Rob Barrowcliff shared his personal story about life as a rough sleeper from 12 to 20 years old. Having turned his life around to get a first-class degree and a career as a mental health nurse in Bradford supporting the homeless, Rob’s moving speech credited his success to the people who helped him.

Rob said: “It was people like the outreach workers for Simon on the Streets who gave me hope and helped me turn my life around. I actually feel blessed to have experienced what I have, it has helped me in my career and allows the patients I support to relate to me.”

Founded in 1999, Simon on the Streets offers street-support to individuals across Leeds, Bradford and Kirklees who have complex needs and cannot access mainstream services, due to complex mental health issues, drug addictions, alcohol dependencies and other barriers.

Eric Richardson, CEO added: “Whilst we cannot create an exact replica of the life of a rough sleeper, the sleep-out is a chance to experience a taster of life on the streets. We’re humbled to the 120 attendees who joined us and raised an incredible £26,835. This contribution will allow us to provide outreach workers who support entrenched rough sleepers.”

Drama arts group Slung Low provided a unique bedtime story via headsets for sleepers. Catering was provided by Rapid Relief Team, Bean Rover and Manjit’s Kitchen.