Originally published on Birmingham Eastside
Over six-hundred people took part in this year’s Birmingham ‘Big Sleepout’, the largest annual fundraiser for St Basil’s, a charity which tackles youth homelessness in the region.
Each year, teams of friends, families and local businesses come together to raise money and awareness for the charity and youth homelessness.
This year was the 29th year of ‘The Big Sleepout’.
A team from HMRC get festive with their shelter.
For the excited participants, one of the highlights is competing for the prize for the best shelter, which is rewarded by St Basil’s during the presentation on the evening. Tinsel, fairy lights and even beach inflatables were some of the decorations seen at this year’s sleep-out.
“Santa’s Grotto” – Team HMRC get festive
James Sopwith from ADI ltd reflects on previous sleep-outs the team have taken part in. Chuckling, he talks about the banter between local businesses on the night. He says,
‘Our shelter must have been good because we had a local law firm try to build a semi-detatchment on the side of it last year.’
‘A real community event’
Barrie Hodge, head of fundraising & communications at St Basil’s tells us that ‘It’s a real community event.’ He says,
‘It’s a real buzz, it’s a real bizarre kind of scenario where you’ve got all of these people coming together [for]one common cause and it’s great fun!’
One team tries to forget the cold weather with a beach-themed shelter.
However, behind the excitement of constructing cardboard shelters, there is a serious message. Barrie explains,
‘What we are trying to do is re-create the scenario of sleeping outside in the cold and the rain, not knowing where you’re going to be sleeping the following night. But we are recreating this as safely and securely as possible.’
Whilst the community pulls together on this fun evening to raise awareness for the charity, Barrie says that the number one cause of youth homelessness is family breakdown.
‘We currently support up-to five thousand young people at St Basil’s every single year.’
‘What we are trying to do is prevent a situation where those young people never experience a homeless situation again.’
The money raised at the sleep-out will go towards the support programmes at St Basil’s, which help young people to get employed or in to further education.
The charity also has a network over 1 thousand shelters in the West Midlands, ranging from fully supported accommodation to independent living quarters, depending on the needs of the young person.
St Basil’s holds ‘Big Sleepout’s’ in several locations across the West Midlands. Next year will be the 30th year of the fundraiser.