THANK YOU to everyone who took part in our first ever Solihull SleepOut on Saturday 7th March 2015, held at Olton Friary! The SleepOut is a sponsored challenge to sleep outside overnight in a cardboard box to raise much needed funds and this SleepOut was exclusively to support our work in the Solihull area which includes homelessness prevention services, supported accommodation, supported lodgings and a Nightstop scheme.
In total 57 people took part in the 2015 Solihull SleepOut and we were very pleased with this level of support for this our first year. Entertainment on the night included live bands, Giant Jenga and our usual competition at all our SleepOuts; the Creative Cardboard Competition where groups are invited to pool their ration of cardboard or bring their own materials to create something a bit more interesting. Entries at the Solihull SleepOut that have made it into our ‘Hall of Fame’ included a Landrover, a fort and a castle. Local councillor Rob Hulland, who also slept out to show his support, helped hand out the prizes on the night.
On the more serious side, those taking part heard from St Basils Chief Executive Jean Templeton who explained that just in terms of numbers per population, Solihull actually has the 10th highest rate of homelessness in England. Even though it is regarded as a largely affluent area, there is a lot of hidden homelessness with young people in particular often ‘sofa-surfing’.
Supporters also heard from a St Basils young person who explained how she became homeless and what she has done since then to turn the situation around. She spoke very passionately about her involvement in the Youth Homeless Parliament which St Basils facilitates and St Basils Youth Council.
The feedback from the first ever Solihull SleepOut has been very encouraging, everyone seems to have had an enjoyable if thought-provoking evening and the event has already raised over £2,500 with more set to come in. We hope to repeat this event in March next year.
Gemma Thompson from Solihull MBC said: “I work for Solihull Council and lead on the implementation of the homelessness strategy so am well aware of the scale and nature of youth homelessness in the borough. St Basils carry out vital work to help and support young people from Solihull who are at risk of or facing homelessness and are a significant partner in helping us prevent and tackle youth homelessness.I though there was a great atmosphere on the night, it was very well organised and it helps focus in on the key issues experienced by those who are homeless”.
‘Lakey Lane School’ mum Karen Henry said:“I knew nothing about St Basils before I went to the BIG SleepOut in Birmingham in November 2014 but I vowed from that night on I will never walk passed a homeless person again and I would do something more for St Basils. The Solihull SleepOut was great fun and there was a great atmosphere with the band playing and the cardboard box creation competition all adds to the fun. I would most definitely do it again and I’d highly recommend it to others”.
Sam Bentley (aged14) from Castle Bromwich Youth group said: “There are people going on the street that are a very young age and this needs to be tackled. I think this was very fun and I would love to do it again next year”.
Linda Winnett from Saint Martin’s School in Solihull said: “I’ve done the BIG SleepOut in Deritend 12-15 times, each time with about 10 Year 11-13 students. I enjoyed this the first ever Solihull SleepOut. I know something of the work St Basils does in the Borough, I know they have a supported accommodation scheme for 12 young people for example and I think it is important to raise awareness in the Borough of the vital support St Basils gives to young people here that are in need. It was very good event and as always, well organised. I will be telling my church in Yardley about it and I will be back next year with a group of students.”
More photos are available from our Flickr feed (click yellow button below). Our sincere thanks to Olton Friary for allowing us to hold this event in their grounds.