St Basils largest ever SleepOut to help young homeless achieved thanks to local support
30 NOV 2016

St Basils hosted Birmingham’s largest ever SleepOut event on Friday 25th November in Birmingham City Centre, thanks to support from Birmingham Cathedral. Six hundred and twenty-six hardy locals slept outside overnight in cardboard boxes in the grounds of the Cathedral. This was a record attendance for this our 27th year of this event. We want to thank all of our supporters who took part as the response this year has been just phenomenal! 

Barrie Hodge, Head of Fundraising at St Basils said:

“With capacity being reached at our usual site, we chose to move our iconic BIG SleepOut event, with the generous support of Birmingham Cathedral, to their grounds in the city centre. And with that support we've had a record attendance this year - 626 people took part braving freezing temperatures overnight to raise vital funds to support our work preventing homelessness and repeat homelessness for young people across the West Midlands. A rise in numbers means this event should raise more in funds than previous years meaning we can extend our reach and help more young people, but with more numbers came more demands on all our sponsors. Huge thanks to Jaffabox for donating considerably more cardboard boxes this year and Greggs (pictured below) for providing a wonderful hot breakfast for all participants in the morning”. 

There was stiff competition in our Jaffabox Creative Cardboard Competition with around 12 group entries. We had a number of construction companies take part including Interserve and HTM Ltd with Amey Plc (pictured right), constructing large and impressive structures on site. CEF also brought along an impressive Sleigh loaded with presents that they later auctioned off to raise more money.  Our young people judge this competition and crowned the University of Birmingham's innovative 'igloo' entry with room for over 20 people to sleep as their winner, with FCA and Hope as runners up. A further 10 very impressive entries have also been immortalised in our updated Jaffabox Creative Cardboard Hall of Fame. Check it out! >>> 

Those taking part in the event included a complete cross section of Birmingham’s communities, including local school children such as Eden Boys School (pictured left), over 40 students from the University of Birmingham, Community groups, Birmingham Cathedral staff and congregation (pictured top left), Former St Basils residents, countless local companies and businesses including several construction companies, Birmingham City Council representatives, and mayoral candidate Andy Street.  

Conservative Mayoral Candidate Andy Street (pictured right, centre) said:

"St Basils does exceptional work with young people preventing homelessness. I was keen to support this work again through the Big Sleep Out. Along with 4 Conservative Councillors we endured a cold night, but I did manage to sleep through to the clear up! Congratulations to St Basils on the event and all they do". 

On the night two of our young residents shared their stories and one SleepOut participant, Naheem Ahmed also volunteered to share his story, explaining to his colleagues and fellow professionals that he is also an ex-resident of St Basils.

Former St Basils resident Naheem Ahmed (pictured left) said:

“Twenty years ago St Basils helped me as young man with no direction and little hope. I remember feeling invisible to the world and St Basils helped me to understand I was worth something and that I had potential. I went on to law school and postgraduate study because I came to realise St Basils was right. Today I am a professional man who has worked with major corporations and I have gone on to work at a senior level where I can create opportunity and help those who need it'.

'The BIG Sleepout made me remember how it is everyday for young people out there sleeping in the streets, it is a duty for every citizen to support projects like this. Someone's father, daughter, sister, mother or brother could be on the street and the event made me realise the massive role st basils plays and that we all have a responsibility to the life blood of this city, to protect each other and help where we can'”.

Another former resident of St Basils, Grace Everill-Spencer, 33 also took part in the Big Birmingham Sleepout.Grace has already shared her story with us; despite being homeless in her teens she is now a successful security broker: Grace's story >>> 

Former resident Grace Everill-Spencer (pictured far right) said of the event: 

"It was really good, we had a great experience. It was absolutely freezing which was to be expected but managed to build a snug shelter so it wasn’t too bad once we were all in our sleeping bags. The atmosphere was great, lots of smiling faces & nice to share the experience with people from all walks of life all there for the same reason. Our grand total so far’s £1170 with a few more donations to come in."

Taking part in the event too were many representatives from Birmingham City Council.  

Acting Strategic Director for Place at Birmingham city Council, Jacqui Kennedy* said:

“On Friday night I joined hundreds of people for St Basils’ Big Sleep Out…..I am passionate about all things housing and homes and, like most Brummies, I’m also saddened by the growing numbers of homeless people and rough sleepers in Birmingham and across the country…. The Big Sleep Out was therefore a chance to raise some money for St Basils – an organisation I know very well through the amazing work it does in partnership with the council to support our young homeless people.  It also turned out to be an opportunity to meet and listen to some of St Basils’ service users and spend time with other like-minded people concerned about the growth in homelessness and how we can help stop it.

To see so many people giving their time voluntarily to raise money for charity reminded me why I am so proud of our city and citizens….  

Homelessness is rising across Europe, but in Birmingham at least the people willing to help and work together is also rising.”

Over 400 participants also enjoyed a midnight service led by the Bishop of Birmingham, the Right Reverend David Urquhart (pictured right), for a period of reflection, prayer and carols. 

Dean of Birmingham Cathedral Catherine Ogle said:

“The Cathedral was delighted to be able to host the SleepOut this year and to see a record turn-out in support of the vital work of St Basils.  We are here to serve the city region and its citizens and were thrilled to see the Cathedral and its grounds full of people gathered together in such a good cause.”

*This quote is a small extract taken from a much larger blog post from Jacqui Kennedy about St Basils BIG SleepOut and homelessness in Birmingham. Read Jacqui's full blog post here >>> 


Thanks to your efforts almost half of the target for this event has already been raised with much more indicated on Virgin Money Giving. We will continue to update the totaliser on our homepage as this money comes into our bank.... but can we reach £100K?

Whilst never 'too late' it would be very helpful if you can get any money raised from this event to us by 31st March 2017. For information on how to get any offline sponsorship money to us please see our donate page or contact the Fundraising team for more support.  

Further links

More Photos: Album 1 more photos: album 2  film of the event  Updated Creative Cardboard 'hall of fame'
how to donate to st basils  Sign up for Solihull SleepOut   Other ways you can help us