[Chloe Burrowes | Contributing Writer]
On Friday night, when most of you were probably enjoying a night at the Forum or were tucked up in bed – I was sleeping outside for a night. My memory foam mattress was long forgotten in favour of some cardboard and the ground because I took part in the Luton Accommodation & Move on Project (LAMP) Sleepout at St Albans Abbey to raise money and awareness for homelessness. LAMP is a Luton-based charity who aim to prevent homelessness through education and outreach; helping people between the ages of 16-25 who have become homeless through no fault of their own.
A team of six of us were ready to take on the challenge on the 4th of December. I decided to do the Sleepout in an attempt to be proactive and to actively raise money. The Sleepout event is extremely renowned and has been running annually for 21 years. It’s admirable to donate to charity, but I thought it will be more of a personal challenge to actually complete something and get the local community talking about and hopefully tackling homelessness.
As I am someone who loves her home comforts and enjoys nothing more than chilling on her sofa in pyjamas with the heating turned high; I thought that the Sleepout would be a realisation of how hard others have it – I was the first to moan when we were without hot water for two weeks in my flat; for some people, that itself is a rare privilege.
It’s very important to change people’s perceptions of homelessness – not everyone has a choice and LAMP doesn’t just hand out money to sustain them, they attempt to change their lives. I feel privileged to have helped fundraise for a charity which will give homeless people a fighting chance with personalised career and life skills advice.
I completed the Sleepout with cardboard, a sleeping bag, a onesie and as many layers as I desired. I was full before I started after attending dinner with my friends, and then I was sustained throughout the night with hot drinks and hot soup – despite all this I still struggled with the cold and tiredness. The event put into perspective how hard homeless people have it on a daily basis.
If you would like to join the Sleepout, it is held at the St Albans Abbey every year, you can find out more about it here: stalbans.anglican.org
If a Sleepout doesn’t sound like a challenge you’re up to, then please donate from the comfort of your own home at: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/Vauxhall4. Anything you give will help – by forsaking one Starbucks and donating the money instead; you can really make a difference.