Over 400 local people have signed up for St Basils 26th BIG SleepOut which is happening Friday, 27th November. This annual sponsored challenge involves participants volunteering to sleep outside overnight in Digbeth, Birmingham, in a cardboard dwelling of their own making. Among those taking part is local celeb Laura Rollins who plays 'Ayesha Lee' in Hit local TV show ‘Doctors’.
Miss Laura Rollins said: “Homelessness and specifically youth homelessness is an issue that I feel very strongly about. The word 'home' encompasses a million and one things for me; shelter, warmth, security and a sense of love and belonging. Every year thousands of people across the UK are at risk of becoming homeless. St Basils charity do vital work in and around my home city of Birmingham, providing support to young people who are at risk of becoming homeless. So some of my work mates have decided to join me in support of this charity by joining the Big Sleep Out event this week. I’m looking forward to coming together with 400 other people who feel passionate about this cause and building my shelter- I can be quite competitive and I hear there’s a prize up for grabs!“
Over 400 local people joined us last year for this event, which attracts participants from across the local community, all keen to do their bit to help homeless young people across the West Midlands. On the night St Basils run the Jaffabox Creative Cardboard Competition to see who can make the most creative dwelling for the night. In recent years this has resulted in entries including a pirate ship, and a TARDIS as well as several Birmingham landmarks including Birmingham cathedral, Birmingham Library and The Bullring. For the 11th year the cardboard forming participants shelter is being donated by supplier Jaffabox.
St Basils is a charity founded in Birmingham in 1972 which now works across the West Midlands to ensure young people aged 16-25 who are homeless or at risk, have somewhere safe to stay. The charity has a range of advice services aimed at preventing youth homelessness as well as emergency and supported accommodation as well as Engagement and Learning, Skills and Work programmes to help young people regain the confidence they need and access education, training and work so that they can move on successfully and become truly independent. In total St Basils assists over 4000 young people per year, housing over 400 young people at any one time.
Last year £85,000 was raised through this event and it is hoped this can be matched this year. The money raised from this event supports all our services to young people across Birmingham, Solihull, Sandwell, Coventry, Walsall and Worcestershire and the Wyre Forest, especially our Learning, Skills and Work programmes which receive no government funding. We are very grateful to our long time sponsors of this event, Jaffabox who donate the cardboard boxes and Harvey Nichols who provide all the food on the night. Their help ensures that we can host this event with minimal cost to St Basils meaning all the funds raised can go towards supporting young people.
Head of Fundraising Barrie Hodge said: “Anyone can take part in this event; we have had everyone from high school students to Corporate business professionals as well as local celebrities taking part in this sponsored challenge, which is aimed at being a lot of fun but thought-provoking too. This event is all about ensuring that this never becomes a reality for young people. Everyone deserves the right to have somewhere safe to stay. This has become our biggest fundraiser of the year and we are so grateful to everyone who comes to this event for showing such support for our cause”.