Yorkshire-based charity Simon on the Streets has announced a series of flagship events in October to shine a spotlight on homelessness in Leeds.

The charity’s annual Big Sleepout, which aims to raise awareness of the increasing issues faced by those rough sleeping, sofa surfing and at risk of homelessness in our region returns to Leeds Civic Hall on Thursday 19th October.

The chance to sleep out on the streets of Leeds is set to return bigger and better than ever with online luxury homeware retailer DUSK.com sponsoring the event for the second year.

DUSK will provide bedding and cardboard ‘mattresses’ for attendees who brave the elements for the night, and for every person who signs up, the company will donate bedding to a homeless accommodation provider in Leeds too.

The evening will welcome dozens of participants to bed down in a secure, enclosed space with food, refreshments, games, and entertainment from suppliers including Sodexo, KwizzBit and Love Leeds Events.

Although sleepers will be spending a night on the streets, the event in no way aims to replicate the difficult conditions experienced by rough sleepers on a daily basis. Instead, it aims to shine a light on the issues associated with homelessness, including social isolation, health inequalities and hidden homelessness, all whilst raising much-needed awareness and funds to keep the Simon on the Streets team 'out there'.

Businesses are also invited to attend a unique networking event held on World Homelessness Day, Tuesday 10th October at Malmaison, as it offers a VIP sneak-peak of its forthcoming involvement in Leeds Light Night.

Leeds Light Night is a staple in the Leeds cultural calendar and this year Simon on the Streets will be highlighting homelessness on the David Oluwale Bridge which will be lit up in the charity’s colours on October 12th and 13th with the charity’s outreach workers taking visitors on a ‘walk in their shoes’ highlighting the issues those sleeping on our streets face.

David Oluwale was a British Nigerian who drowned in the River Aire in Leeds in 1969, having faced a life of abuse on the streets of Leeds.

The David Oluwale Bridge opened earlier this year honouring the legacy of David who was harassed because of his race, mental health and homelessness as a symbolic link between the city’s past, present and future.

Natalie Moran, Simon on the Streets CEO says: “To be involved in an iconic event such as Light Night, placed on the new David Oluwale bridge in Leeds this October is an honour. It is our mission to bring hope to those without a voice, people just like David Oluwale. To be able to highlight the issues people experiencing homelessness today face and how our outreach team works tirelessly is a huge opportunity for us to continue our important work.

“Our Big Sleep Out is the biggest fundraising event in our calendar and we already have a number of business teams and local residents signed up to join us, but we’d love to see even more!

“We’re incredibly grateful to DUSK and all the suppliers involved, we have ambitious plans to make this sleep out our biggest success yet!”

Sian Guest, Head of Brand Marketing at DUSK comments: “We’re so proud to be sponsoring Simon's Big Sleep Out for the second year running. At DUSK.com, we believe everyone deserves to have a place they call home. That's why our colleagues will be getting out there and taking part in this fantastic event, supporting the incredible work of Simon on the Streets as they support those facing homelessness in all of its forms.”

Founded in 1999, Simon on the Streets is an independent charity, working with local people who are affected by homelessness and rough sleeping in Leeds and Bradford.

The team offers street-based emotional and practical support at the pace of the individual.

Part of Simon on the Streets’ role is tackling issues such as physical and mental health and addictions which can both result in and keep people in the cycle of homelessness.

To sign up to Simon on the Streets’ Big Sleep Out visit https://www.trybooking.com/uk/events/landing/45019.