Every sector of the local community was represented at St Basils BIG SleepOut, held on Friday 28th November in the charity’s carpark in Digbeth, Birmingham.
The Bishop of Birmingham and local churches, scout groups, friends, family, schools, businesses, Corporates, local Councillors, public and housing sector workers and the media, from all the areas St Basils work in, which as well as Birmingham includes Solihull, Coventry and Bromsgrove, all came together to take part in this event, build their cardboard dwellings up, round and in amongst each other and spend one night sleeping out to raise funds for St Basils prevention and support services for homeless young people across the region.
440 local people took part in BIG SleepOut this year, meaning this year’s was the biggest ever, in the event’s 25 year history. The target was to have at least 414 taking part (which would have been a record in itself) to match place for place the number of young people they house every night, to show everyone what 414 people sleeping out looks like and to remind everyone of the importance of homelessness prevention and support services like ours.
There was a real party atmosphere on the night; even the drizzle couldn’t dampen the spirits of those taking part. Several of the groups really got into the spirit of the ‘Jaffabox Creative Cardboard Competition’ where groups are challenged to create something a little more interesting with their cardboard boxes donated by Solihull based boxmakers Jaffabox. Amongst the entries were a JCB digger, a pink palace, several houses and a giant Boot. Birmingham’s Lord Mayor Cllr Shafique Shah presented the prizes. First prize was presented to eNL Legal for their ‘Birmingham Library’ entry.
Consultant Katie Ward from eNL who was largely responsible for organising the team’s fundraising efforts and creative construction said:
“We were unsure what to expect from the Big SleepOut but were keen to contribute what we could to such a great cause. We had a brilliant time, the atmosphere was great all night and all of the organisers were really helpful. We were genuinely thrilled to win the Jaffabox Creative Cardboard Competition, just goes to show what a bit of team work and a lot of cardboard can create! Although it was tough at times in the night we would definitely recommend that people get involved next year, it’s a fabulous event and such a small sacrifice when you think of the young people you are helping in the process.”
MD of John Lewis Andy Street (pictured below) took part in this event, alongside other MD's including David Richardson of Lloyds Banking Group. This was Andy Street's first time taking part in BIG SleepOut and he attended both presentations including one from young people on the night.
John Lewis MD Andy Street said: "It was great to take part in St Basils BIG SleepOut and learn a lot a lot more about the invaluable work they do in this city"
Other Birmingham Corporates and businesses taking part included Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co., PwC, Lloyds Banking Group, Ernst & Young, Barclays Bank, BPM Media, ADI and MediaCom.
BIG SleepOut first timer Rachel Humpage from advertising planning agency MediaCom (pictured) said: “I think the work St Basils do is amazing and I’m glad something exists like this for young people. I found the BIG SleepOut quite challenging (which is obvious) but the atmosphere is amazing, really great buzz!” Paul Bramwell also from MediaCom who also took part last year added: “This year’s BIG SleepOut was excellent; good fun and a good atmosphere! We’ve already surpassed our fundraising target and raised £1600 at the last count”.
Karen Henry (pictured left above) from Acocks Green who took part with friend Charlie Richardson (pictured right) and won second prize in the Jaffabox Creative Cardboard Competition for their JCB entry, commented on Facebook afterwards: “It was a great event, well organised and had a lovely atmosphere. As well as raising a fab amount of money, I really do have so much respect for St Basils and the work they do. They work tirelessly to prevent the young people becoming homeless in the first place and they get them back onto education or training, ultimately to assist them in finding more permanent accommodation and work. I promise that is not the last thing I will do to support the work of St Basils”.
Cllr Jess Phillips (pictured front centre) took part with several other Councillors from Birmingham City Council including Cllr Sharon Thompson, Cllr Anita Ward and Cllr John Cotton. She said: “BIG SleepOut is a great event! And means funding something…with fun! St Basils is a vital service to prevent homelessness and protect young people. I would definitely recommend BIG SleepOut to others”.
Fecility Parker from CofE Birmingham Mission Academy said: "I would reccommend this event to others. I am a young person myself and I value the stability and security of my home. I wouldn't like to live without that so I don't think other people should either."
A team from Kings Norton based adi Group took part for the second year running. Alan Lusty, chief executive at adi Group, said: “As a Birmingham company born and bred, we feel we have a responsibility to put something back into the community, particularly for the next generation. The St Basil’s BIG SleepOut is an important part of that commitment, given that it aims to provide young people with the most fundamental support possible".
However it wasn't just Birmingham that came out to support this event. Linda Winnett from Saint Martins School, Solihull said: "The sleepout has been really brilliant - great presentations where the young St Basils Youth Council people shared their stories in a really confident and assured way, their stories of help, hope and a future to look foward to; one of our students said she was 'enlightened' by what they said... well organised and the 'Bish' was great; I liked his 'Black Friday' into 'Good Friday' link."
A large team from Bromsgrove District Housing Trust also took part. BIG SleepOut first timer Jordan Gravell from BDHT said: "We work with St Basils in Bromsgrove and participate in many of their events. The sleepout has been GREAT! I would definitely recommend it to others!"
Since December 2013 St Basils has been supporting around 70 young people in Coventry. The Euro Law Society at the University of Warwick took part for the first time this year. Student Sofia Gullgens said: "As a young person I think this is a very important cause; homelessness can effect anyone and everyone...(sleeping out was)... cold, very cold, but very rewarding!".
The event also enjoyed great media interest on the night with BBC Midlands today conducting a live feed from their 6.30pm news bulletin and interviewing our Chief Executive Jean Templeton and BIG SleepOut participant and ex- St Basils resident who we are extremely proud of - Councillor Sharon Thompson (elected in Soho Ward, Birmingham in May of this year). BBC WM also covered the event and a team from the Birmingham Mail actually took part and slept out to help raise funds for us.
Also on the night thanks to a tweeted selfie from Bradley Simpson from Sutton Coldfield (aka the lead singer of band The Vamps) who visited the BIG SleepOut to show his support for those taking part from HCA, @StBasilsCharity was trending on Twitter for the UK!
Lucy Hackett, Head of Fundraising at St Basils said of this years event:
“We were extremely pleased with the turn out this year. Our message building up to this event was that every individual can make a difference to each individual young person. For all of us to see a change in our communities, we all need to come together to bring about that change and it felt like our supporters really embraced that at BIG SleepOut this year. We want to help our young people break the cycle of homelessness and in turn create a different cycle. Our theme for this year is ‘Invest, achieve, inspire’, and everyone taking part in this event has started that cycle too. A massive thank you to all who took part and thank you to our volunteers and sponsors Jaffabox and Harvey Nichols Birmingham for ensuring this event could happen too”.
Those who took part raised a grand total of £83,749 in sponsorship for doing this event which smashed the 80K target we set for all our large events! So thank you so much to all of you took part and contributed to achieveing this fantastic total!
There's more photos and other features on our main BIG SleepOut page including our Jaffabox Creative Cardboard 'Hall of Fame'. Click on the button below for more or to sign up for next year’s event.
Next years BIG SleepOut will be on Friday 27th November 2015. We also now hold SleepOuts in Solihull and Coventry which just raise funds for the services in those areas. Our BIG SleepOut raises funds for all of St Basils services and particularly our Learning, Skills and Work services across the West Midlands as this department receives no government funding. Governments and local councils are required by law to provide shelter and support for certain groups of people considered to be in priority need, however we don't just want to provide the minimum required, we want our young people to build the mental skills needed to strive onwards, reach their goals, get a job, become valued members of their communities and most importantly never be in a situation again where they have no safe place to call home. If this is a vision you share too we hope you will take part again to help us continue to achieve this for future generations. Thank you so much for your support.