On Saturday 23 April, Newcastle University medical students volunteered to stay overnight outside the Students’ Union in order to step into the shoes of those for whom sleeping in the open air is a harsh reality.
The action went on for the solid 12 hours between 6.30pm and 6.30am, drawing publics’ attention to the issues surrounding homelessness and raising over £1500 for the local branch of YMCA providing support to some of the most vulnerable young people who face multiple challenges in their lives.
About 83,000 people aged between 16 and 25 needed assistance from the councils and charities in securing a roof over their heads between 2014 and 2015.
Homed Sleepout is the biggest fundraising event of the year within the society’s activity plan, hosted in association with the Newcastle YMCA for the fourth year in a row.
The YMCA have provided sleepout enthusiasts with some food, speakers an event poster, and Homed Sleepout fundraising page at MyDonate.
Help in organising the event also came from NUSU’s Activities Officer, Hannah Goring, with money collections supported by Northern Stage and Theatre Royal.
Twelve students spent the night under the hailstones with the temperature dropping to as low as 1°C. Campaigners at some point played scavenger hunt and took a quiz.
Francesca, a committee member of Homed Newcastle said: “We actually tried to sleep as much as we could, but stayed up to do bucket collection outside the Union and Northern Stage during NUSU’s Saturday night, BoomBox”.
Francesca described their experience as largely positive.
She said: “We were generally well received and people were interested in what we were doing.”
The action managed to raise £1,515 not including proceeds from the collection buckets and texting and this figure only continues to grow.
Francesca added: “We’re really pleased with how generous people have been with their donations!”
Established five years ago as a branch of the Newcastle University Medsin Society, Homed Newcastle aim to promote student involvement in issues surrounding homelessness and other causes of vulnerability through volunteering, educational and fundraising.